NHI Strikes Deal with New Operating Partner Comfort Care Senior Living

National Health Investors (NYSE: NHI) has a new operating partner in Comfort Care Senior Living, which believes its commitment to ground-up development and technology integration differentiate it from the competition.

Earlier this week, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee-based real estate investment trust (REIT) announced it had purchased a 51-unit assisted living and memory care community in Bridgeport, Michigan, and a 53-unit assisted living and memory care community in Saginaw, Michigan, for $17.1 million. These two communities—Bavarian Comfort Care and Shield Comfort Care, respectively—were purchased from and will be leased to affiliates of Saginaw, Michigan-based Comfort Care Senior Living.

NHI will also have a purchase option on two additional communities owned by Comfort Care in Michigan.

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Comfort Care Senior Living, which was established in 2013, is a “growth-oriented operator with an excellent reputation and demonstrated innovative operating concepts,” NHI President and CEO Eric Mendelsohn said in a press release. 

It’s the provider’s willingness to develop rather than acquire, and to integrate technology right away, that truly sets it apart in its various markets, Hamza Sikander, managing director at Comfort Care Senior Living, told Senior Housing News.

“All of our facilities we have developed from scratch,” Sikander explained. This has enabled all Comfort Care buildings to “have WiFi from day one.”

With WiFi, Comfort Care is able to avoid paper documentation, including paper health records, entirely. It’s also able to implement other senior living-specific technologies that aren’t possible without WiFi.

On the whole, the senior housing industry has been slow to technology implementation—even WiFi implementation. When Des Moines, Iowa-based LCS acquires new communities, for instance, it often finds “that [technology] infrastructure is one of the first things that’s neglected,” LCS Chief Information Officer Marc Gaber noted in July 2016.

Comfort Care currently operates four senior housing communities in Michigan, and has four more communities under development in the state. The provider’s “sweet spot” is developing properties that have 50 to 55 units, Sikander explained—though in more metro areas, its sweet spot is about 90 units.

By 2020, Comfort Care hopes to operate between 15 and 20 buildings in total, all in Michigan. 

Sikander is aiming for the newly announced partnership with NHI to become a trend for his company.

“We’re hoping it will be the first of our many transactions that we’ll do [with NHI],” Sikander said. “We’re hoping to become NHI’s partner of choice in Michigan.”

As of May 1, 2018, NHI’s portfolio consisted of 225 total properties, with 147 being senior housing. Of its operators, it classified 59% as “regional,” with the largest of these being Charlotte, North Carolina-based Senior Living Communities and Olathe, Kansas-based Bickford Senior Living.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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