Despite some headwinds from COVID-19, executives at Regional Health Properties feel hopeful about the nation’s vaccine efforts and occupancy recovery in the second half of the year, according to the firm’s fourth-quarter and year-end 2020 earnings results, released after the market closed on Thursday.

The Atlanta-based real estate investment trust reported that it had terminated a lease with the operator of two non-performing facilities in Georgia and transitioned one of them to new operators. Preliminary results for transitioned facilities for January and February are encouraging, according to the firm. In addition, Regional collected 91% of its 2020 cash rent and generated positive free cash flow from continuing operations for the fourth quarter and year end.

“Our portfolio occupancy experienced some softness going into year end but we remain hopeful that the vaccine rollout and reinstating family visitation privileges should reverse the downward trend by the second half of 2021,” said Brent Morrison, Regional Health Properties’ president and CEO. “We have a strong and experienced portfolio of operating partners and remain confident in their abilities to continue to navigate through the challenges resulting from the ongoing pandemic.” 

Regional’s new chief financial officer, Ben Waites, who joined the firm in September, also expressed confidence in Regional’s financial stability.

“I’m excited to join the Regional team,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to furthering the company’s progress and see Regional well positioned to weather the storm. We see opportunities to refinance some of our senior debt secured by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other capital structure improvements.”