Jon-Paul Venoit

The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a bit of a silver lining for one Connecticut long-term care operator: the impetus for making long-planned strategic changes in skilled nursing and an expansion in its assisted living and home care businesses.

Last month, Wallingford, CT-based Masonicare reported that it had 101 empty skilled nursing beds out of a total of 357. But rather than panic at these low occupancy numbers — which mirror industry wide trends amid the COVID-19 pandemic — the firm saw it as an opportunity to make some much-needed operational changes.

Masonicare asked the state’s Department of Social Services for a permanent reduction in beds at its skilled nursing facility, from 357 to 260, a loss of 97 beds. If approved, the firm will reduce the bed count at its SNF by converting all of the four-person rooms to double rooms, and many of the double rooms to single rooms, to allow for greater patient safety, Masonicare President and CEO Jon-Paul Venoit said.

“This has been in our strategic plan for quite some time,” Venoit told the Hartford Business Journal. “The pandemic made it a little more achievable and a little quicker.”

Venoit also noted that it helps that, although the operator’s skilled nursing business has been suffering amid the pandemic, Masonicare’s assisted living and home care businesses have continued to thrive. In fact, Masonicare’s mix of businesses has been so resilient in the past year that other companies are calling on a regular basis seeking advice, management help and even potential acquisition, Ann Collette, vice president for strategy and business development, told the media outlet.

In response, Masonicare set up GenM, an in-house consulting firm to help other healthcare companies with management and strategy.

“This is an industry in flux right now,” Collette said, adding, “it was anyways prior to the pandemic. Our goal is to help our colleagues out in whatever way that they need.”

This article appeared in the McKnight’s Business Daily, a joint effort of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.