Affinity Living Group (ALG) has furloughed 70 corporate workers and parted ways with a handful of company leaders — including its COO, Neal Lail.
As part of a corporate restructuring, Affinity on Monday parted ways with Lail and its senior vice president of operations. The Hickory, North Carolina-based company also furloughed its senior vice president of marketing and 70 employees who worked in marketing, sales and operations, but encouraged them to apply for open community-based roles.
The changes are aimed at shifting more oversight and resources to the community level, according to James Harvey, Affinity’s vice president of public relations and communications. Affinity has about 160 communities spread throughout the U.S. Southeast.
Although Covid-19 has locked down communities nationwide and forced providers to rethink their plans and budgets for the year ahead, the pandemic alone didn’t cause the restructuring, he added. But it did hasten its implementation.
“These structural changes, though brought on sooner than originally anticipated due to Covid-19, are part of a strategic plan for ALG as we prepare for a future of strength and leadership in the senior living industry,” Harvey told Senior Housing News.
Specifically, Affinity is focused on moving more decision-making to the community level and boosting operational efficiencies, he said.
Several sales team members are now transitioning to roles in Affinity communities, and one former sales director is currently training to become an executive director. And, Affinity has retained its divisional operations directors despite the structural changes.
“They have direct oversight at the community level, and are able to work more efficiently to meet the needs of our communities,” Harvey said of the divisional operations directors.
The leadership changes are only some of the ways Affinity is working to divert more resources to the field amid Covid-19.
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“We’re also looking out for the courageous caregivers at each of our communities,” Harvey said. “These are the precipitating factors in making changes within our corporate structure.”
Affinity is now offering free meals to workers at communities to limit their exposure to disease vectors in the outside world. And, the company has implemented an HR initiative to recruit new caregivers, housekeepers, dietary associates and other vital community-level positions.
Like many other providers, Affinity has been hit with a shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE. To help fill a potential gap while the company looks to source more PPE, the company is working with furniture manufacturers across the Southeast to produce fabric surgical masks — a trend that is playing out elsewhere across the country.
On the resident side, the company has begun admitting residents before it has set up their Medicaid payments in order to get them out of harms’ way first. Affinity has also temporarily ceased discharging residents who have lapsed in payments.
“Providing care for those in need is our top priority, and we’re dealing with the financial aspect of their stay subsequently,” Harvey said. “Of course, we’re following the CDC’s guidelines for admissions, which involves a rigorous health screening process.”
And, Affinity has set aside five North Carolina communities that are waiting on licensing for potential uses as non-Covid-19 hospital overflow sites, should the state government choose to use them.
More generally, Affinity has focused on pursuing a model of more affordable senior living supported in part by North Carolina’s Medicaid program, which allows for coverage of assisted living care. The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kevin O’Neil, was also an early voice warning of Covid-19’s drastic effects on the senior living industry.