Bayada, VNA Health Group Joining Forces to Expand Health System Partnerships

Industry News   •   August 26, 2019

Bayada Home Health Care and Visiting Nurse Association Health Group (VNAHG) have agreed to join forces, the mission-driven nonprofits announced Monday. Strategic partnerships with hospitals and health systems are among the drivers of the move, leaders from the two organizations told Home Health Care News.

Under an agreement that’s expected to be finalized by November, VNAHG will officially join Bayada, blending its existing home health, hospice and physician-service programs with the large Moorestown, New Jersey-based provider’s own operations. VNAHG is also headquartered in New Jersey.

Founded in 1975, Bayada employs more than 28,000 nurses, home health aides, therapists, medical social workers and other home health care professionals across nearly two dozen U.S. states, with additional locations in Germany, India, Ireland, New Zealand and South Korea.

VNAHG has an even longer history, established more than 105 years ago. Today, the organization is the largest independent, nonprofit provider of home-based health services in the Garden State and northwest Ohio.

“The world of home care is changing, with all the different policies and payment models we’re seeing,” Dr. Steven Landers, president and CEO of VNAHG, told HHCN. “To win in the coming years, we expect it’s going to be important to have strong, large organizations that can weather the changes and make sure we’ve got the right talent, technology and tools to be successful.”

In June, VNAHG outlined plans for a new joint venture with Cleveland Clinic Florida. In February, the nonprofit also announced it had been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the Parker Foundation to further build out its Advanced Care Institute.

Neither initiative will be impacted by a potential combination with Bayada, according to Landers, a geriatric medicine physician.

“We expect to continue to grow and sustain all of our home care, hospice and palliative care programming that we’re working on,” he said. “All the exciting things that we’ve [talked about] in the recent past … we’ll continue — and even build upon through this partnership.”

Mike Johnson and Adam Groff will continue to lead Bayada’s home health and hospice practices, respectively, once the combination agreement is finalized. Dr. Landers will then be responsible for oversight of the home health and hospice practices as a group.

In the immediate-term, VNAHG joining Bayada will increase the provider’s density in the New Jersey home health and hospice markets, according to CEO David Baiada. The combination will also add to Bayada’s footprint in Ohio and Florida while strengthening its palliative medicine and in-home primary care capabilities, Baiada told HHCN.

“They’ve got quite a bit of experience and sophistication [in that regard],” he said.

Although a combination of Bayada and VNAHG makes sense for multiple reasons, there are two that are most obvious.

For one, Bayada and VNAHG are both nonprofits, but they each have maintained an entrepreneurial and growth-focused mindset. Apart from that trait, both organizations have also prioritized partnerships with hospitals and health systems as a way to improve transitions of care across the broader continuum.

“How do we improve the collaboration between physicians, hospitals and home care agencies so that our most frail elders with serious illnesses get coordinated care, care that is provided by more of an orchestra of support rather than a bunch of one-man bands?” Landers said. “I see the health system partnership and joint venture model as a huge opportunity for changing that paradigm and getting increasingly tight alignment between home care and physicians, hospitals.”

Together, Bayada and VNAHG would have at least eight hospital and health system JVs.

“[VNAHG] has similarly had a strong track record in one key area of strategic growth, which is the focus on health system joint ventures, with quite a bit of success over the last eight years or so,” Baiada said.

The combination agreement follows Bayada’s transition to nonprofit status in late December 2018, designed as part of founder and chairman Mark Baiada’s Lasting “Legacy Legacy” succession plan. The founder a former-president gave away $20 million to Bayada employees in November as a “thank you” and major milestone in that plan.

But the combination with VNAHG was made possible by more than just Bayada’s transition to nonprofit status.

“I wouldn’t say this was made possible by our nonprofit transition, but I do think it’s one additional ingredient that added to the already exciting strategic combination,” said David Baiada, Mark’s son. “I see this as a one-plus-one-equals-three scenario where our shared entrepreneurial, nonprofit-orientation and focus on health system JVs creates a lot of opportunities in the market.”

VNAHG’s longstanding VNA of Central Jersey Foundation will remain an independent organization moving forward.

The companies did not disclose any financial details associated with the combination plans.

This article originally appeared in an article in Home Health Care News.