Bonds

Pennsylvania nursing-home operator Senior Choice defaults after COVID turmoil

A Pennsylvania company that operates three nursing homes is in default, and it’s a familiar story: staff shortages and a large slump in occupancy in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Senior Choice Inc. failed to make interest and principal payments due Oct. 31 on its $15.9 million bond issued in 2006 by the Cambria County Industrial Development Authority, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday. 

The trustee for the bonds said that Senior Choice still expects to file for bankruptcy as disclosed in July as part of a plan to sell or close facilities.

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Senior Choice operated “without major issues” between 2006 and early 2020, the company said in July. But since the pandemic, it has been beset by the same pressures — from fewer residents to spiking labor costs and shortages — that have plagued the industry at large. 

Almost 700 hundred nursing homes have closed since the outbreak of Covid-19, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More are under pressure as they compete for staff not only with hospitals but also retailers and other service industries that can pay comparable or better wages. 

Senior Choice cited staffing difficulties as among the reasons for its distress. When federal pandemic funds ran out, it “began to consider its strategic options.” 

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