As Heisinger Bluffs and St. Joseph's Neighborhood prepare to transition to their next chapter, their new owners say they are ready to hit the ground running with a vital improvement and an ear open for feedback.
Green Tree Health Care's purchase of the facilities takes effect Oct. 1, said Maryanne Wallace, communications and marketing executive director for the facilities' current owner group, Lutheran Senior Services (LSS). The sale was made after years of strategic efforts and evaluation by LSS, she said.
Green Tree's director of operations, Elazar Fischer, said in an interview Wednesday that LSS focused more on assisted and independent living services rather than skilled nursing, an element he said Green Tree could bring to the table. He said his group, based out of New Jersey, offered a more well-rounded expertise encompassing both residential and nursing services.
While they weren't sure what changes or improvements would be on the horizon, Fischer said the team planned to address a major barrier for the facilities for a start.
"Currently, Heisinger Bluffs is not certified for Medicare, so if someone does have an incident where they do need skilled care or to be hospitalized, they have to transfer them over to St. Joseph," he said. "We're planning on getting both facilities certified for Medicare. That way, we'll be able to provide care on site without having to transfer them, which the facilities were very happy to hear about."
Fischer said the certification would take effect upon closure, letting the new owners hit the ground running with one improvement already active.
He said Green Tree was taking on the current staff at their current pay rates, while also recognizing their seniority at the facilities as if they were spent with the new owner.
"If someone's been there for 10 years, we consider them under Green Tree for 10 years, even though it's new to us," Fischer said. "We understand that they put their blood, sweat and tears into their work, and we want to make sure and honor that."
He said the team was also looking into rate adjustments and incentives to attract new staff members, something he noted was a struggle across various industries at the moment.
Fischer said Green Tree had five skilled nursing facilities and two assisted living facilities, with these new operations being their first in Missouri, though the group hoped to expand to a regional presence as time goes on and new opportunities emerge.
He said the new owners hoped to connect with the community and gather feedback to implement further improvements down the line. Each facility and community has different needs, he said, and the new owners hope to build a partnership with local stakeholders to meet those needs.
"Every facility uses different services that cater to the community and each and each facility," Fischer said. "And in order for us to be successful, we need to look at each individual asset. I mean, we have two facilities that are a mile apart from each other, but they work completely different ... we need to meet their different needs in order for us to meet the community's needs.
"We're super excited to have the opportunity -- obviously the reputation that these facilities have in Jefferson City means a lot to them, and it means a lot to us. So we're honored and excited to have the opportunity to continue to care and make some improvements."
Heisinger Bluffs, located at 1002 W. Main St., offers independent living, assisted living, memory care and longterm care services. St. Joseph's Neighborhood, located nearby at 1306 W. Main St., is also an LSS community that includes skilled nursing services.
Heisinger and St. Joseph's Executive Director Ashley Drewel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.