After Medicaid flap, Bradenton nursing home to sell

BRADENTON -- A nursing home that lost more than 20 residents last year when its Medicaid privileges were suspended may soon have a new owner.

The Riverfront Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and its affiliated assisted living facility are expected to be sold to a New Jersey buyer within a few weeks. Reginal Washington, the facility's administrator, said the transaction comes as the 110-bed nursing home is rebuilding its resident base.

Last April, residents whose stay at the facility was paid for by Medicaid were notified they had to move out because the program was pulling its funding from Riverfront. The facility's funding privileges were revoked after its former operators, Maxcine Darville and Joanne Carter, were indicted in connection with a Medicaid fraud case.

Washington said Darville and Carter had been leasing the business from the facility's owner, North Carolina nursing home management company AdvoCare.

Since then, operation of the business has gone back to AdvoCare. Last week, a division of AdvoCare sold the property to a related company, AdvoCare Charitable Remainder Trust, for $2.29 million, according to Mana

tee County property records. AdvoCare companies have owned Riverfront since the 1990s, records show.

What is expected to sell in the coming days are the business operations of the 80-unit ALF and the nursing facility, as well as the property at 105 15th St. E. Built in 1950, the 61,000- square-foot facility sits on almost 4 acres with a view of the Manatee River.

Florida reinstated Riverfront's Medicaid privileges in January. Since then, occupancy in the skilled nursing portion of the operation has grown from 18 residents to more than 70. Washington said he expects the occupancy rate to be more than 90 percent in the near future.

"We weathered the storm," he said.

Most residents who stayed during the Medicaid suspension were on private pay plans. A few Medicaid-funded residents remained, but Riverfront was not allowed to charge the program for their expenses.

AdvoCare's principal, Daniel Mosca, kept staff on the payroll as Riverfront pursued Medicaid reinstatement, Washington said. All 155 current staff members are expected to retain their jobs after the expected sale.

The sale will be the latest in a series of transactions during the past year that have changed ownership of local assisted living, retirement and skilled nursing facilities. Last April, National Church Residences of Columbus, Ohio took ownership of the 325-resident Water's Edge of Bradenton, adding it to its 330-property portfolio. Last month, The Cottages of Bradenton, an ALF, sold to the Lowry Group Properties of Port Charlotte.

In the biggest such transaction last year, Irvine, Calif., health care real estate investment company HCP Inc. purchased Freedom Village in Bradenton for $53 million in September.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.