Athena sells 5 CT nursing homes

Financially troubled Athena Health Care Systems has sold five of its Connecticut nursing homes to a former competitor that has agreed to pay back taxes and debts owed to vendors and add $2.6 million to cover unpaid employee health insurance costs.

The purchase price was not disclosed.

The state Department of Public Health recently approved the deal, transferring the five facilities to National Health Care Associates, a long-time nursing home provider based in New York.

The five homes that are now owned by National are the Newtown Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, Beacon Brook Health Center in Naugatuck, Montowese Health & Rehabilitation Center in North Haven, Sharon Health Center and Evergreen Health Care Center in Stafford Springs.

The five nursing homes have about 500 residents combined as of the end of May, according to state Department of Social Services data. The homes are at about 67% occupancy, lower than the statewide percentage of 86% occupancy.

The terms of the DPH licensure agreement highlight some of the financial difficulties that have befallen Athena — which, with this sale, is no longer the largest nursing home provider in the state. Athena still owns 14 nursing homes, down from 22 a year ago.

As part of the licensure transfer, DPH is requiring National to pay all vendors that Athena owed money to within 120 days, pay any back taxes owed to the towns where the facilities are located and contribute $2.6 million to its employees’ health care insurance fund to cover all medical bills.

Athena owed nearly $47,000 in back taxes to four of the communities where the nursing homes are located, records show.

Kevin Battistelli, National’s chief development officer, said the company has delivered quality post-acute care to residents throughout the northeast for more than 30 years. National already owns 14 nursing home in Connecticut, according to its website.

“We look forward to providing the same quality and compassionate care to these centers,” he said.

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