Horizon West sells nursing homes to Plum Healthcare

Two of the 27 facilities are located in Auburn
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Three Auburn nursing homes are under new ownership. San Marcos-based Plum Healthcare Group has purchased Horizon West’s 27 facilities, including two in Auburn — the former Colonial Healthcare, now called Horizon West Auburn Ridge and Foothill Oaks, now called Horizon West Auburn Oaks. Plum also recently acquired the Country Villa facility, since renamed Rock Creek Care Center. The sale is expected to take two to three months for completion, according to Plum co-CEO Mark Baliff. The company doesn’t plan any immediate changes to facilities or staff, Baliff said this week. “We need every one of the 288 employees between the two Horizon West facilities in Auburn,” he said. It is possible that there will be job opportunities created in Auburn. “As we begin the transition together, over time within our traditional approach is to deploy robust numbers of nursing staff at bedside,” he said. That could mean more positions, but decisions about staffing are made at each facility, he added. There are also no plans to change the cost structure, Baliff said, explaining that most of the reimbursement is from Medicare and Medicaid, with those rates set by federal or state government. For private-pay individuals, Baliff said he does not have the information right now. “We expect to build on what is already in place in the two facilities,” he said. “As we get to know the facilities over the next 18 to 24 months, we’ll work with local leadership to determine the right thing to do by each community.” In terms of patient safety, Baliff said Plum will work with teams in place to assess strengths and weaknesses and “bring all the best practices” … and work with those local teams where needed. In 2010, a Superior Court jury in Sacramento awarded $28 million in punitive damages to the family of former Hawaii resident Frances Tanner, who died in 2005 after a seven-month stay at North Auburn’s Colonial Healthcare facility, according to previous Journal reporting. Plum has been in talks with Horizon West for several years about the acquisition. “We’ve been interested in the greater Sacramento area and, in particular, the communities Horizon West has been serving,” Baliff said. “We like these local communities they serve and they’re very complimentary for where we’re located. We have facilities as far north as Redding.” At Seniors First in Auburn, Executive Director Candace Roeder has a wishlist of innovations thatshe says would make a big difference for seniors in care homes. “I’d like to see brighter, lighter facilities and more kind of intimate areas for people to have private conversations — intimate seating areas throughout, so you don’t have to have a private conversations in patients’ rooms,” she said. More community events in the facilities would “get people who aren’t comfortable in that atmosphere, a little more comfortable,” she said. “To give the community a different perspective,” she said “Too many people these days think of these facilities the way they were 40 years ago and they are completely different now.” She’d also like for seniors to be able to have pets and have a place to garden and . “I realize there are some complications (with having pets), but for some seniors, it makes all the difference in the world on how they connect.” Baliff and co-CEO Paul Hubbard have 14 years in the nursing home business. “We were licensed administrators and operated nursing homes for about five years,” Baliff said. “We’ve logged a lot of hours at the bedside. We love this work … “ Plum Healthcare Group started with three skilled nursing homes in 1999 and acquired 20 more in California, Arizona and Utah during the next 11 years. With the addition of Horizon West’s holdings, Plum Healthcare will have 50 care facilities and approximately 7,500 employees. Horizon West, based in Rocklin, is a privately held local consortium. Reach Gloria Young at