By 2007, entrepreneurs Elizabeth Fago and her son, Paul Walczak, were ready to cash out of the nursing home chain they had built to nearly $510 million in revenue and to more than 70 centers. That same year, entrepreneurs William Meyer and Steve Tendrich sold their interest in their retirement community company, CRSA Holdings.
None of the four, Walczak says, intended the sales to end their careers. Looking at aging healthcare facilities and antiquated processes of nursing centers, they decided to do something new. Next year, that something new, their collaboration Palm Health Partners, opens its first NuVista Care Communities in Wellington, with 172 beds, and in Lutz, near Tampa, with 170 beds. A third center in Jupiter linked to Scripps Florida opens in 2012.
“This is an investment we’re very comfortable with for the sands of time,” CEO Paul Walczak says.
Palm Health targets patients who need transitional care for 20 to 35 days after hospital stays before returning home. The facility will include “smart room” technology and have a residential rather than institutional look. Its focus is on the latest in thinking on healthcare — an emphasis on outcomes and integrating doctors, the hospitals, Palm Health’s facilities and other caregivers.
“The challenge is very daunting,” says Walczak, Palm Health’s CEO. “We had to take a bold step toward the effort of connecting healthcare delivery.”
Their project at Scripps, the $60-million, 169-bed Institute of Healthy Living, Life Science & Research, draws particular attention. With 250 jobs, the institute will be the first sizable commercial employer to join the Scripps cluster. Fago is one of Scripps’ major benefactors, having donated $2 million.
The institute will work with Scripps researchers and with Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College. It will include a memory-impaired and neurological research center and other path-breaking facilities. “We saw this as a great opportunity,” Walczak says, “to align with some of the greatest minds in the world.”