Nursing home chain CEO received $5.2M 'retention' bonus amid COVID-19 surge, resident deaths

Genesis HealthCare, a nursing home chain with more than 300 facilities, paid its CEO, George Hager Jr., a $5.2 million "retention payment" in late October amid rising COVID-19 cases across company facilities, The Washington Post reported Jan. 20. 

The Post cited an SEC filing showing the board also gave Mr. Hager a $650,000 bonus and a $300,000 consulting contract. The filing notes he will have to pay back an unspecified amount to avoid certain tax liabilities, which he will apparently be reimbursed for over the next two years.

Mr. Hager retired from the CEO position Jan. 5 and will stay on as a consultant. 

The company's board approved the payment amid the majority of its facilities struggling with personal protective equipment shortages through the end of November, after Mr. Hager's bonus was approved, according to a Post analysis of Medicare data. Genesis' SEC filings in recent years have also indicated tight finances, with the company warning its investors since last summer that it might not survive because of high costs and low occupancy rates, according to the Post. 

In a statement sent to the Post, Tom DiVittorio, the company's CFO, said the CEO compensation hasn't increased in three years: "The compensation [board] committee works closely with an independent consultant to examine the effectiveness and reasonableness of our executive compensation program. The CEO base salary has remained unchanged since 2017 with 75 percent of comparable CEOs paid more." 

Under Mr. Hager's leadership, 14,352 COVID-19 cases were reported across Genesis nursing homes though mid-December, including 2,812 deaths as of Dec. 20, according to Medicare data cited by the Post. 

Mr. DiVittorio backed the company's pandemic response in his statement: "Genesis has not been only fully operational on the front lines of this virus — our leadership and employees have been working around the clock to keep our patients, residents and staff members as safe as possible. Genesis has paid out tens of millions of additional 'hero' dollars to our staff and support staff on the frontlines of this battle."

More articles on post-acute care:
New Hampshire nursing home board members cut line for vaccine, say state health officials
CMS head calls for US elder care system reform, outcome-focused payers
AARP: 10 ways to improve nursing home care

 

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