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Searcy nursing home: state's most profitable; 50 centers earn more than $229,000.

LEISURE LODGE, A 245-BED nursing home in Searcy, was the state's most profitable facility last year with a net income of almost $893,000, according to annual cost reports filed with the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Leisure Lodge, one of 40 Arkansas nursing homes owned by Beverly Enterprises Inc. of Fort Smith, is one of the state's three largest homes. Jacksonville Nursing Center, another Beverly Enterprises property, and Pine Bluff Nursing Home also have 245 beds.

Publicly traded Beverly Enterprises is the country's largest operator of nursing homes. It has 765 homes in 25 states, as well as retirement centers, pharmacies and other holdings in the U.S. and Japan.

This year, Arkansas Business ranked the state's nursing homes by net income, listing the 50 most profitable facilities out of 226 homes. Sixteen of Beverly Enterprises' facilities are among the 50 most profitable, all with net incomes exceeding $229,000. In the past, Arkansas Business has ranked the homes by number of beds.

Atkins Nursing Center, an 80-bed facility owned by Russellville Nursing Centers Ltd., had the highest net income per bed last year, $5,261. Its net income was $420,000.

Rose Care Inc. of Rogers, owned by J.T. Rose, is Arkansas' second largest owner of nursing homes with 19. Two of those are among the state's most profitable, led by Rose Skill Care Nursing Home of Jonesboro with net income of about $572,000. The other one is Rose Care Center of Little Rock, which had net income of about $338,000. Just missing the list was Clarksville Convalescent Home with $217,000 in net income.

In 1973, after working in hospital administration at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock, Rose founded the company, which also operates two nursing homes in southwest Missouri.

Rick Lorence, general counsel for Rose Care, says the firm is actively pursuing expansion, even outside Arkansas and Missouri. It has considered making acquisitions in Oklahoma.

"We would like to stay in this region," Lorence says. "I'm sure we would even consider the southeast part of Kansas. And we have looked at nursing homes in Tennessee and Louisiana."

The company has grown steadily since its inception, Lorence says, and now has about 1,600 employees. Since 1990, it has added four nursing homes in Arkansas: in Mountain Home, Stamps, Smackover and Hampton. It also purchased the lease of a nursing home it operates in Fayetteville.

Lorence says Rose Care is in the process of selling its largest facility, 204-bed Little Rock Nursing Center. The company's smallest nursing home has 37 beds, but Lorence says Rose Care prefers facilities in 70-140 bed range.

"That's a good range for us, occupancy-wise and employee-wise," Lorence says. "A lot of the patients now are terminally ill or require intensive care, so a smaller facility allows us to be able to care for them better."

Lorence notes that a major change in nursing home operation in the past 10-15 years is the higher level of governmental regulation. Most of the nursing homes in Arkansas have an extremely high percentage of Medicaid patients. Most have more than 50 percent of their residents paying through Medicaid, and many have more than 80 percent on Medicaid.

Arkansas faced a crisis two years ago with a potential shortfall in Medicaid funds, but a special session of the state Legislature passed a tax on soda pop sales and added an additional tax to nursing home owners.

Lorence says the taxes have sufficiently funded Medicaid in Arkansas.

For someone looking for a good nursing home to care for a relative, Lorence suggests visiting several facilities in the area and asking administrators, staff and residents about the nursing homes and the level of care.

Some of the larger nursing homes in the state did not have a highly profitable year. Jacksonville Nursing Center had a net income of $35,849 or $146 per bed. Little Rock Nursing Center had $121,000 in net income and Rose Care Center of Fort Smith, with 187 beds, had $191,000 in net income. Hillhaven Convalescent Center in Little Rock, with 174 beds, lost $450,000 last year.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business Rankings; Arkansas; Beverly Enterprises Inc.'s Leisure Lodge
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jul 25, 1994
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