Friday, December 15, 2017

A Look Back through Kindred Peephole


Strange Tony.

Four and a half years ago Kindred announced the creation of a new position, a Chief People Officer.  As Kindred employed strategic human resources I've re-branded the role Chief Peephole Officer.  Kindred Executive's submarine sunk employee treatment under Stephen Cunanan.  The C suite peephole warship is loaded with executive pay maximizing strategies.

Flash back to June 2013 when Kindred announced the hiring of Stephen Cunanan

"In recognizing that Kindred's greatest strength is our dedicated and compassionate employees, we believe that Chief Peephole Officer Stephen Cunanan's talents will further expand our ability to invest in our people. His proven leadership and human resources abilities will help ensure that our colleagues have the skills necessary to deliver clinical excellence and the opportunities to grow professionally."--Paul Diaz's hollow promise

"The mission of Kindred's People Services team is to provide integrated, cost effective and efficient human resources services that leverage the strength of our people to drive Kindred's clinical and business strategy.  Peephole Services will foster a culture of quality and engagement to enable our people to promote hope, healing and recovery for patients, residents and families."- Ben Breir's blather

In this newly created role, Cunanan will be responsible for Kindred's People Services, including employee engagement and satisfaction, leadership development, advancing Kindred's culture of patient safety, and leading Kindred's development of a shared services human resources model.

The words are lofty but executive actions have fallen far short.  Executives were true to their promise of employee engagement, the hostile encounter/battle version.  In less than four years Cunanan accumulated over 125,000 shares of Kindred stock, currently worth over $1 million.  Most are incentive stock awards.  He's clearly looking after executive peers and not employees.  That's the Kindred way.

Anonymous (wondering what 2018 will bring besides bountiful executive riches)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ever Shrinking Kindred


Strange Tony,

Kindred remains in retrenchment mode.  Executives shrank the company after their early 2015 spending spree (buying Gentiva and Centerre).

Kindred dumped $1.1 billion in revenue and nearly 19,000 employees from levels shared in the run up to the Gentiva closing.

Kindred chiefs even shrank Kindred at Home which had a high of 656 locations in October 2015.  That's down to 609 as of yesterday's news release in which Kindred President Ben Breier said, "We continue to believe that the sale of our skilled nursing facility business will significantly enhance shareholder value, enable us to sharpen our focus on higher margin and faster growing businesses, and further advance our efforts to transform Kindred.”  It's hard to see growth anywhere in these Kindred statistics.

However, Kindred's long term debt remained mostly stable. 


The nursing home division sale means the rest of Kindred must carry the whole debt burden.  Executives were not generous before.  Their miserliness will likely continue.  Heaven forbid it should increase.

Their challenge is to sell the company's current predicament as outstanding management action, so they can be absurdly rewarded by Kindred's Board of Directors.

Kindred President Breier recently elevated employees to partners in a Wall Street analyst call.  Nurses, social workers and counselors have options in today's healthcare landscape.  I expect many to walk.  The grass may not be greener but hopefully it's less greedy at the top.

Anonymous (from debt bloated Kindred)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Breier Implies Employees Second Hand Partners


Strange Tony,

Kindred President, CEO and Director Ben Breier elevated employees to partners in his recent earnings call with Wall Street analysts.  

Good morning, everyone. I'd like to start my comments, as I usually do, by extending my deep appreciation on behalf of our entire leadership team to our teammates across the country. Each day, our partners at Kindred work incredibly hard to improve the lives of the more than a million patients we care for annually. The excellent care and clinical outcomes we generate are the direct results of their efforts. Their responses in the face of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, which significantly disrupted our Florida and Houston operations, highlighted our caregivers' commitment to our patients. The stories of personal sacrifice and dedication among our team members in these markets are a source of motivation and great pride for our team.

The call transcript's only mention of motivation was an individual employee's intrinsic motivation to help others during a disaster.

Neither Breier or his fellow executives made mention in the call of  competitive pay or wages for Kindred's employee partners generating excellent clinical outcomes.   This is important as executives gave guidance to analysts about 2018 and what to expect from the company. 

Coworkers at our hospice site have gone three years or more without wage increases.  Stagnant pay becomes a demotivator, which can be magnified by eroding benefits.  Kindred cut retirement and health insurance for legacy Gentiva employees, acquired in February 2015.

Breier did talk about labor costs, controlling and reducing them.

I also want to highlight, in the quarter, we made significant progress on our labor cost for our home health business despite a challenging labor market. Our direct labor cost per visit for this business was down 3.7% from prior year. If you recall, this is an area that had been a significant challenge for us, particularly over the end of 2016 and into early 2017, and we're very pleased to have made this meaningful progress.  

Breier was "very pleased" to decrease labor costs per visit, not to reward employee partners for the direct results of their efforts.  He spoke of benefits in a similar light.

So you have some tail benefits of cost rationalization relative to SNF and our business in general as those mature into 2018.

A November analyst call would be the perfect time to speak to employee wages and benefits, given open enrollment for 2018 benefits was underway.  Breier and his fellow chiefs completely avoided the issue.

Breier did highlight Kindred's pulling $242 million in cash from an offshore insurance arm to use to delever the company, i.e. not give raises.

The new item is "a significant initiative for which we recently achieved important success to restructuring certain aspects of our insurance programs and processes to liberate trapped cash and use that cash to deleverage Kindred."

Kindred executives planned to sell its nursing home division and turn all the proceeds over to Ventas.  That left no funds to reduce the company's massive amount of debt.  So Kindred executives flew to the Cayman Islands to purloin nearly $250 million from its insurance subsidiary.  In its place they left letters of credit, more commonly known as IOUs.  There is historical precedence for such a move.

Butch Cassidy (Born Robert Leroy Parker) started out stealing horses and stealing small things (sometimes even leaving an IOU.)

Kindred wiped out worker's comp and professional liability reserves to "simply pay claims as they become due" for both programs. 

Ironically, Ventas birthed Kindred in May 1998.  That makes Kindred 19 and a half years old.  That explains the company's strategic lurching around and robbing the offshore cash bank.  It also explains why proverbial executive teens are focused on their needs and not those of employee partners, formerly teammates.  Actions speak loudly and Kindred executives are yelling.

 Anonymous

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Kindred Unleashes New Program


Strange Tony,

Kindred is ready to kick off a new initiative, Kindred for ME.  Male Executives are expected to do quite well under the new program.  Regular employees not so much, as raises remain infrequent and elusive.

Anonymous

Saturday, October 7, 2017

VP Toad Ignorant, Arrogant and Condescending


Strange Tony,

Your encouragement to be a blessing came at a critical time.  Kindred Vice President Toad visited our hospice site recently.  He carried a large leather briefcase.  Staff did not know why he'd returned.  Such information is closely held by management.

Toad holed up with our Branch Manager, cooking up plans to deal with secret issues.  He did break often to use the restroom and at odd times to eat lunch.  Our VP went directly to his destination with little chit chat.  He avoided people doing actual hospice work.  Most of the time Toad walked briskly, head down while speaking into his blue tooth.  This posed a potential safety hazard, especially at corners near the rest rooms.

Management's marathon sessions culminated with a mandatory staff meeting.  Toad opened his leather bag and threw a folder on the table.  The gullible among us envisioned a pay raise or restoration of looted benefits that migrated into executive pocketbooks with each buyout.  The idealistic were fooled again.

Toad told us our site was under performing because it was not making as much money as the company demanded.  He attributed that to low morale in office personnel and accumulated grief/loss within our nurse and clinical ranks.  He tackled each of these problems separately.

"This office has many long tenured employees.  Kindred views that as a two edged sword.  One edge has experienced employees frequently stuck in their ways and resistant to change.  Kindred made many improvements that employees failed to appreciate, like the harmonization of our 401k retirement match.  Yes, some of you saw that contribution fall 67% but others in our company experienced a 100% increase.  Good employees are happy when other people win.  Other employees failed to appreciate the elimination of the copay benefit for doctor's visits in company provided health coverage.  Kindred gave you an opportunity to experience the full value of your physician relationship by having you foot the whole bill.  That is a direct reflection of management's magnanimous care and appreciation.' 

'The second sword edge for experienced employees is Kindred pays you more than we would for your replacement.  It's not much more given years without raises but every penny digs into executive incentive pay.   The company exists to maximize management's pay, not yours.  As a result we will eliminate this site's long tenured employees at the end of the month.  There will be no severance and your health and life insurance will stop the day of your termination." 
 
One of our four chaplains asked, "How do we know who among us will be let go?"  Toad replied, "It's based on the definition of a long tenured employee."  The chaplain said "Yes, and what is a long tenured employee?"  Toad replied, "You'll have to call the KindredHub line to obtain that information."

VP Toad continued:

"For our nurses Kindred will institute a new bereavement hour after an accumulated twenty patient deaths.  Kindredlink will track your deaths and when you reach twenty our payroll system will automatically clock you out for an hour.  You are to use this hour to get over your grief, drop your negativity and give management the appreciation it deserves for meeting margin and EBITDAR targets.  Got it?
Silence, until our longtime receptionist raised her petite hand.  She asked, "Of our 70 some employees how many did you talk with?"  Toad offered, "Four."  She followed up, "How many outside the management level?"  Toad said, "None."

"And what is the cumulative tenure of those four managerial employees?"  He said, "Two years."

"How many patients and family members did you speak to?"  Toad confessed, "Zero."

Her final question was "Did you consult our last Pwc employee survey results, the ones never shared with our staff?"  Toad said "No, I didn't need to.  Those surveys are not legitimate feedback.  It's more on the level of a female dog."

Our staff left the meeting with disturbing insight into our company.  Kindred has in charge the ignorant, arrogant and condescending.  Lord bless them, they know not what they do.  As one reaps, so shall they sow.

Anonymous (Trying to be a blessing inside Kindredful)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Calling


Anonymous,

Retirement has been a relief.  I no longer experience the tension of fulfilling my hospice calling within a for-profit enterprise.  Before our fledgling hospice company went public this tension seemed manageable.  Executives showed support by showing up and their words and actions had a heartfelt component.  That changed when our company went public and Wall Street's quarterly pressures impacted leadership.  Pressure came to meet or beat the numbers.

When the company disappointed Wall Street expectations executives sold out to a new group, each more charlatan than the last.  Executives rewarded themselves at greater levels with each buyout.  That's been the arc in the material, earthly hemisphere of corporate business.  That's not everything.

There's the realm of spirit.  Christ operated within persecution of the Romans, Pontius Pilate and local religious leaders.  Hospice workers are present day saints trying to navigate the hostile aspects of their job in order to serve, be with, minister, love, support, and care for the dying.

Saints did not go with the flow.  They did not pray for census or for stock prices to rise.  They had a unique calling which required persevering, even challenging others in its achievement.

With each buyout our voice diminished.  With each name change hospice leaders became more intolerant of anyone standing up on principle.  Dialogue did not occur in order to find a better way forward.  The principled simply got branded as negative, not a team player.  Official leaders prioritized image and surface contact over depth and real relationship.

Executives cared for themselves.  Their pay increased with each buyout.  Ours did not.  Their visits became more infrequent and their words increasingly insincere.  They tried to bear hug the best of us, hoping it would somehow rub off on them.  But executives could not hide their desire to shower away real contact with Christ's least of these.  Our management was limited, so we looked to one another for leadership, inspiration, support and relationship.  When co-workers sought favor with ignorant and divisive managers this too became difficult to maintain.

Support one another.  Resist the call from above to label and divide.  That's my encouragement to you and other hospice workers this Labor Day.

You are a spiritual person navigating a material world.  Do so with presence, awareness, courage and faith.  It's your calling.  Live it!

Strange Tony

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Causby's $1 Million Bonus Arrives Just Before Labor Day


Strange Tony,

Kindred at Home President David Causby won the employment lottery this week.  He received a $1 million bonus simply for showing up to work on August 31st.   That's quite an attendance reward.  I know Kindred employees with years of perfect attendance awards.  Those come with a simple certificate.

The timing of Causby's $1 million bonus is ironic.  You recall the time when Labor Day once celebrated workers. I'll venture Causby's having quite a celebration with his lottery like paycheck

Labor Day 2017 arrived with no raises at our hospice site.  It coincides with having no voice.  Kindred stopped the PwC employee survey earlier this year.  It took two years for Kindred to adopt the Gentiva way of completely ignoring employees.  I suspect Mr. Causby drove that decision. 

In a way it's more honest not to ask.  In 2016 Kindred asked and completely ignored our feedback.  It was a different way of marginalizing the employee voice.  Kindred employs a Manager of Online Reputation to respond to employees attempting to be heard online. 

We’d love to learn more about your experience. We know your input is critical to any potential improvements we need to make. Please reach out to me at experience@kindred.com.  Or would you be willing to









Saturday, August 12, 2017

Nursing Home Sale Comes with Huge Costs and Charges


Strange Tony,

Kindred executives revealed the financial bath the company will take to dump its nursing home division.

The Company now confirms that (1) the Company expects to incur $315 million to $350 million in costs and charges related to this transaction, all of which have been or will be booked in discontinued operations, consisting of $30 million to $40 million of transaction costs, $30 million to $40 million of severance costs, and $255 million to $270 million of lease termination charges (calculated primarily as the difference between the aggregate consideration of $700 million payable to Ventas and that portion of the Purchase Price allocable to the fair value of the real estate and operations for the Ventas facilities, less certain Ventas rent credits on the balance sheet), and (2) during the second quarter of 2017, the Company recorded asset impairment charges of $134.6 million in continuing operations related to the previously acquired RehabCare trade name ($97.4 million) and customer relationship intangible asset ($37.2 million) due to the expected loss of affiliated contracts related to the SNF divestiture and cancellation of non-affiliated contracts.

When Kindred purchased Gentiva it sought to reduce the borrowing load on the combined company.

Kindred expects pro forma adjusted net leverage will be roughly 5.5x Adjusted Debt to Acquisition Adjusted EBITDAR at closing, and to reduce its outstanding indebtedness to below 5.0x Adjusted Debt to Acquisition Adjusted EBITDAR by the end of the second full year following closing. Kindred reiterates its commitment to a steady-state target leverage profile of 4.5x to 5.0x 

Wall Street analysts estimated leverage to go much higher with the nursing home sale. Kindred CEO Ben Brier tried to paint a brighter picture on the company's debt load.

"The primary part of the deal is we will get paid $700 million for the assets. And then we will use that $700 million to essentially pay for the real estate and buy our way out of the leases with Ventas that are being conveyed as part of the deal.

I would focus on the lease buyouts because, remember, as part of the deal, we will be eliminating $88 million worth of lease expense. So if you combine that with the hospital closures and sort of other tweaks around minor leases that we've been making, we have -- or we expect by the end of the year to have eliminated $100 million of lease expense, which, Sheryl, I know you and your cohorts put an 8x multiple on in terms of our leverage. So getting rid of that lease expense is a very significant item in terms of our overall capitalization. 

Our view is as we approach the end of the year and we clean up all this stuff, our leverage should get down to right around the sort of 6.0, 6.1 level on an adjusted debt-to-adjusted EBITDAR basis. And as we get into next year and based on the guidance we provided, we expect to sort of punch through 6.0 and continue to deleverage from there. Now look, I mean, this is not where any of us had hoped that our leverage would be, but it is a natural result not of an increase of debt but in terms of the EBITDAR challenges that we've had as a result of LTAC criteria and, to some extent, all of the sort of constructive transformation that we've been making with the overall business. So we do expect to get back into the high-5s over the course of next year, and we are extremely focused on making progress from there."

I recall Gentiva CEO Tony Strange trying to explain how the company repeatedly failed to meet both its profit and de-leveraging goals.  Kindred's Ben Breier has a similar challenge, promising something and having to explain management's failure to achieve. 

We appreciate everybody working hard to continue to follow what we know can sometimes be a complicated story.

Kindred missed their $1 billion EBITDAR target and its goal to de-lever by 1 - 1.5x.  How much performance pay will the Board give executives for driving up leverage 1 - 1.1x?

Kindred bought Gentiva's equity for $720 million.  As of Friday's stock market close Kindred's equity stood at $629 million, nearly $100 million less than the equity value for what became Kindred at Home. 

KND stock had a bad run recently.  Shrinking a company is a delicate operation.  Delicate is a word I do not associate with Kindred management, which can be extremely self serving

Anonymous (one of 100,000 deeply appreciated Kindred teammates)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bad News: Kindred Executives to Focus on Hospice

Kindred President Ben Brier and CFO Stephen Farber talked to Wall Street analysts on Friday about the company's second quarter performance.  I searched the earnings call transcript and found their statements mentioning hospice. 

"Our primary objective was to exit the skilled nursing facility business and grow our Home Health, Hospice and hospital rehab businesses."

Kindred was founded to operate skilled nursing homes.  Breier and company ditched Kindred's original mission because profit margins shrank.  They sold the division at a time of low valuations and highlight deal losses (which generate tax breaks that improve cash flow in the future).

The stock market did not buy their bragging about the deal.   Kindred's stock went down 30%.  It dropped from $11.70 to $8.20, a decline of $3.50 per share. 

"Kindred at Home, the nation's largest home health, hospice and community care platform, delivered a solid quarter with revenues up 3.2% over prior year. With $109 million of core EBITDAR, the second quarter represents a record earnings quarter for Kindred at Home. The near 17% core EBITDAR margin for the quarter reflects a 230 basis point margin improvement over the first quarter of 2017 as we got back on track after the integration challenges we overcame late last year.

Our Hospice business delivered a solid quarter as well. Hospice core EBITDAR was up 4.6% compared to last year on roughly flat revenues as we delivered significantly improved margins. Our Hospice teammates did an outstanding job managing costs against flat same-store census. Labor costs per patient day were down 1.8% from the first quarter of 2017, a continued improvement in this measure."

Hospice admissions declined 4.5% from second quarter 2016.  Admissions dropped 5% for hospices Kindred did not sell or close. 

Gentiva executives could never figure out why hospice did not conform to home health's hard sales model.  Their OneGentiva initiative had sales people doing both, home health and hospice.  Kindred's call centers operate under the same philosophy. 

"Importantly, the growth prospects for Hospice, in our view, have not changed. We believe the volume contraction in the quarter was a slight and temporary bump in the overall steady-growth Hospice trend line. We attribute this temporary volume softness to the restructuring activities among the ranks of our clinical liaisons in Kindred at Home. These restructuring activities, which we completed in the quarter, were related to the separation of the Hospice sales force from the Home Health sales force, given the inherent specialization of those 2 lines of business. With this process largely complete, our clinical liaisons remain poised to capture our share of the hospice industry tailwinds."

Like Gentiva before it Kindred believes the solution lies on the sales side.  Our hospice census goes up when we have good nurses, chaplains, social workers, nurse aides and bereavement staff.  Census rises when they feel valued and supported by our branch manager and the company.   

Kindred benefits have been a kick in the teeth for our employees.  Kindred's health insurance eliminated the doctor co-pay benefit, so any visit outside the mandated annual wellness visit is the employee's responsibility.  The pharmacy benefit has employees not using insurance at all, claiming to have no coverage to get affordable medication.  Gentiva reduced the paid time off accrual before the Kindred buyout but rumors suggest further cuts could be coming.

Kindred has taken a how little can we provide stance on employee benefits almost on every front.   Gentiva showed the value of employer provided benefits on our paycheck.  Kindred ditched it. 

People feel valued when they have a voice.  It didn't take long for Kindred at Home President David Causby to eliminate the employee survey.  While our site took the survey in 2016 we never heard anything back from our efforts.  When asked why the results were not shared our branch manager said the company de-emphasized it, i.e. executives don't care what we think.  We pretty much knew that but thought someone would have the decency to share results from a survey management asked us to take.  Our feedback meant nothing.

Hospice employees can expect more of the same.  Increased management attention is never good in Kindred. 

"For the most part, I would say that in Kindred at Home, in our Home Health and Hospice business particularly, we think we're very much back on track in that business. And I think we'd like to see, obviously, more top line growth, and I expect that we will see it, having come off of some of the integration challenges we talked about last year at the end of 2016 and now a little bit of a rejigger on our sales force, which is mostly complete. Obviously, we're very pleased with what the results look like, and we know that we can manage costs when we have to in a volume environment that can be tough. But I think that for all of us, as health care provider or service investors, we got to keep our eye on volumes and think about how do we feel about volumes going forward. And there'll be peaks and valleys with that. I think one of the things that we're doing really well, A.J., is that we continue to attract growth on the managed care and commercial side of our business. And there's no question that if you just look around at how the payers across the country are performing this quarter, they're knocking it out on all cylinders, and the more that we can continue to generate referral sources from them and be a part of their solution, I think, the better off our enterprise will be. So that, I think, in broad strokes, is kind of how we built into 2018.

We're going to keep trying to grow organically. We're going to ke,ep trying to drive efficiency and productivity and keep managing cost per visit down the way we have, and we're going to keep trying to be the best home health and hospice operators that we can be in the country."

It's hard to believe executives want us to be the best hospice given they stopped many distinctive services our site once offered.  Working for Kindred has been a walk back in time for efficiency and productivity.  Before Kindred our hospice was far and away the best in our community.  People lined up to work at our site.  That's no longer the case.

"We, quite frankly, like to look for undervalued assets that we can -- maybe even be dilutive in the short term that we can help grow, and so we're always looking for those kinds of opportunities. We continue to look at the hospice and the community care side of the world. But I don't know that it changes anything really about how we were thinking about home health in terms of M&A. We've been in pretty good shape with what our platform looks like for a while and just want to continue to run our business efficiently."

We prefer Kindred executives be occupied by big deals.  Any time executives showed up at our site they made things worse.  I pray they stay away.

"I'd like to start my comments, as I usually do, by expanding -- extending my deep appreciation, on behalf of our entire leadership team, to our more than 100,000 teammates across the country. Each day, our partners at Kindred work incredibly hard to improve the lives of the more than 1 million patients we care for annually. The excellent care delivery and clinical outcomes we generate are the direct result of their efforts."

When Kindred bought Gentiva the combined company had more than  109,000 teammates.  There are 9,000 less of us.  For those remaining do you feel respected and rewarded for working incredibly hard to improve the lives of your patients?   I hesitate to speak for everyone at our hospice but the majority don't feel Kindred is a good, caring employer.

We love the work, our patients, our coworkers and set aside Kindred's bad management.  We rise above to serve.  Hospice truly is a calling, something you wouldn't sense from this quarterly earnings call.

Hospice length of stay went up from 91 to 94 days.  For the quarter company wide hospice census fell 1.9%.

These are not numbers to us.  They are people, families, and friends dealing with harder aspects of life, it's ending.  There is only one way.  That's through, not around.  It's hard to hear some things.  One can be richer (non-monetary), wiser and more peaceful from the simple act of listening and honoring one person.

Kindred executives want to give hospice more attention.  That's historically been a very bad thing at our hospice.  Every time they chose to go around, not through. Management misdiagnosis leads to mistreatment, which carries additional complications.  From that we suffer.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Line Formed to Influence Toad

Strange Tony,

Kindred Vice President Toad visited our hospice site recently.  He set up in a conference room and invited staff to meet with him in one on one sessions.  The line formed on the sign up sheet with its half hour increments, which our office manager guarded as if it were gold bars from Fort Knox.  Management added a special partition to enable confidential entry and egress for staff.

Years ago Toad would have had no takers.  Back then staff knew better than to give bad leaders any information that could be used, twisted, or distorted to harm fellow employees.  That wisdom is long gone, replaced by an egotistic, self serving sickness which likely will be terminal for our hospice if it persists long enough.

One does not rise by stepping on the heads of co-workers.  Fellow employees sink under the feet of those under the illusion they benefit from divisive and unproductive behavior.  The tragedy is corporate management who listens to one side of any story and decides to act.   In such cases the race is to be the first one heard.  That race unfolded with Toad's open door sessions (which always occurred behind a closed door).

It is such a management basic to hear multiple sides of a story to learn what happened and develop strategies to address the issue.  Kindred, and Gentiva before it, ignore this simple dictum.

Executive Toad will do something with the myriad of misinformation made available to him by those who pretend to be victims in their perpetration.  If he's like the executive line before him Toad will support the lazy and unethical who point fingers elsewhere so they won't be found out.  He might even hit on our attractive staff as did a former HR VP, who professed to being happily married.

It is astounding how much incompetence, silliness and unprofessional behavior they willingly overlook.  Yet, management writes up the smallest transgression from hard working, patient focused staff who purposely protect themselves from untrustworthy management.

Kindred executives do not have eyes to see and ears to hear.  They have partial stories, often distorted beyond recognition.  These fictions stimulate executive adrenaline and vengeance as those coming up short under the micromanagement microscope must be punished.

Will Toad overlook the burning forest of conflict at our hospice site, doing the bidding of those who ignited and continually stoke the fires?  I'll wager he's at the head of the fire hose following instructions from the crew that ran to him first.  It's been the Kindred way to burn the innocent at the bidding of the arsonist. I expect Toad to follow this deeply entrenched pattern.

Anonymous (from Kindredwarts)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Kindred Dumps Nursing Homes for Huge Loss


Strange Tony,

Kindred announced the sale of their nursing home division late Friday.  Kindred's press release revealed details of the deal:

Kindred Healthcare, Inc. (“Kindred” or the “Company”) (KND) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement with BM Eagle Holdings, LLC, a joint venture led by affiliates of BlueMountain Capital Management, LLC (“BlueMountain”), under which it will sell the Company’s skilled nursing facility business for $700 million in cash. The sale includes 89 nursing centers with 11,308 licensed beds and seven assisted living facilities with 380 licensed beds, which collectively have approximately 11,500 employees in 18 states. 

Kindred is closing the door on it's initial mission by selling its nursing homes.  Ventas spun off its nursing home operating division into Kindred via an initial public offering in 1998.  Kindred already agreed to pay Ventas $700 million for 36 leased nursing homes.  Ventas press release clarified:

The sale price of $700 million represents a seven percent cash yield on current annual cash rent of $50 million and an eight percent GAAP yield. The difference in yield represents the annual portion of the amortization of $23 million in cash fees Ventas previously received from Kindred. Upon the sale of the SNFs, Ventas is expected to record a gain exceeding $600 million.

Effectively Kindred will take the $700 million from BlueMountain Capital and pass it directly to Ventas.  For BM Eagle Holdings it's buy 36 Ventas nursing homes get the rest for free.

There's a huge disconnect inside this deal.  Ventas owned nursing homes sold at a huge premium and Kindred gave away the physical assets of 25 nursing homes and 3 ALF's.

Kindred's big win comes from "the creation of an approximately $380 million net operating loss carryforward associated with the sale transaction."  That will generate "approximately $140 million of cash tax benefit over time."  The two other wins are simply holding onto stuff the company already owns, working capital and a "retained Las Vegas facility, hospital-based sub-acute units and other retained assets." 

Kindred's stock has been on fire lately.  I wonder what it will do after the market digests the nursing home fire sale that disproportionately enriches Kindred's former owner..

I do worry about the 11,500 Kindred employees going to BM Eagle Holdings.  In the hospice world Kindred pay has been stagnant as benefits deteriorated.  How much worse might these employees fare under private equity ownership?

The deal is expected to close in two stages but should be completed this year.  Kindred CEO Ben Breier will get how big a bonus?  Whatever amount the board awards for this deal should be split 11,500 ways and mailed across 18 states.  Employees should get something for being sold out.  Ben Breier and Stephen Farber should get nothing for turning their back on Kindred's original mission.  Other divisions should know we're disposable as well.  Executives could turn on us at any time.

Anonymous  (from a saleable division in executive enriching Kindred)

Friday, June 30, 2017

New Kindred Executive: Venemous Toad?

Strange Tony,

Corporate assigned a new junior executive to our hospice site.  I'll call him Toad.  So far he's been very quiet.  That can be a sign of someone who prefers to watch and learn, but that's been a rare practice of prior Kindred vice presidents.  Toad's predecessors preferred to:

A.  Talk over listening
B.  Jump to conclusions over researching issues
C.  Shoot any messenger raising legitimate concerns
D.  Foster or avoid conflict rather than manage and reduce it.
E.  Play favorites
F.  Beat people up over numbers

Our new VP arrived at a time of incredible division within our hospice.  Conflict increases when leaders use strategies that keep people separated and uninformed. Ninety five percent of conflict can be resolved with one simple intervention, help people complete communication. This solution has been a mystery to Kindred managers who sow division and manage by whim.

Our hospice divide deepened when staff sold their soul to horrific management for the illusion of personal protection and connection to power.  Kindred leaders took information nuggets from soul-selling staff, instantly twisting and misusing them as weapons.  Enough hospice staff made this sick deal that our hospice culture could be terminal.

It will take a sophisticated VP with deep leadership skills and experience to save our historically great hospice.  Such people are rare in today's EBITDAR obsessed, capital optimizing, human abusing, compliance lip service-oriented world of healthcare mismanagement.


Kindred does not have systems to find and employ such leaders.  It's just not in them.  We'll see how bad Toad's venom is.  Will it be more or less toxic than those who came before him?

Anonymous (Waiting for next Kindred axe to fall)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Kindred Sells CFO Farber Home for Huge Loss


Strange Tony,

Kindred Healthcare executives remained mum on their bad investment in high end Louisville real estate.  Kindred flipped the luxury home for a loss of at least $250,000.  Kindred CFO Stephen Farber owned the house and benefited financially from his employer's largess.


Ferber received $300,000 more than the cost of the home and subsequent renovations.  His $250,000 in extra moving expenses came on top of $110,000 Kindred paid for Farber's 2014 relocation.  I'll venture Mr. Farber avoided realtor fees on the $2.15 million Kindred paid for the house, a benefit of roughly $125,000.  Add it up and Farber got an extra $675,000 from his employer for not getting along with his neighbor.

Kindred paid dearly for the deal, the flip loss of $250,000 and the second moving expense benefit of $250,000.  The unknown variable is the cost of the driveway, estimated as high as $360,000.  Kindred is out realtor fees of $125,000, bringing the Farber anger management subsidy to almost $1 million.

This exercise in executive enrichment should become a business ethics case at the University of Louisville.  I suggest it be studied parallel to the next Kindred executive flip.  Will it just be the nursing home division or will top dogs sell the whole company?  The time is nearing for news.  I hope it's not as disturbing as this toxic saga.

Anonymous (from the Kindred level with no raises and declining benefits)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Executive Enrichment Club: Causby's Turn


Strange Tony,

Kindred Homeboy President David Causby had a good week, like Kindred Super President Ben Breier.  The Board granted Pit Bull 57,877 restricted shares of stock.  Causby controls over 300,000 shares after this move.  That means the $1.05 rise in stock price last week gave Causby over $300,000.  That is $150,000 per day for two days.

This is nothing compared to the $1 million check Causby will get for showing up for work on August 1, 2017.  Meanwhile, Kindred employees at our hospice get no raises this year.

Anonymous (from Kindred level where the home work is actually done)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Breier's New Chief of Staph to Protect His Riches


Strange Tony,

Kindred President Ben Breier scored two personal gains recently.  The company deigned he needed a Chief of Staph.  Kindred's Chief Strategy Officer took on the Presidential protector role.  The move further insulates Breier from Kindred's 100,080 non-executive employees, who've suffered from declining benefits and stagnant employee pay under his reign.  Taking advantage of employees is a Kindred corporate strategy. 

Breier's second win was a new stock grant of 272,000 shares.  It will vest one third per year for the next three years.   Recall President Ben's compensation rose to $7 million last year for under performing on promises.  Kindred lost $664 million last year.  Breier earned $1 million for each $100 million the company lost.

Kindred felt generous last week as the rest of the executive team plus the board received restricted stock options.  These are usually convertible to shares in a buyout.  As Kindred stock jumped a nickel less than $1 today, Wall Street might smell another round of rich executives making millions by flipping their company.

Meanwhile, our hospice is hanging together by a thread.  Serial mismanagement left our ship floundering.  Corporate has no clue the damage they allowed to exists for years.  They should have known from the last two PwC employee surveys but Kindred, like Gentiva, shoots the messenger vs. working on causes, focusing on processes and coaching staff.

The PwC survey went the route of wage increases for 2017.  Kindred Homeboy President David Causby finally taught Breier the Gentiva way, where employees have no voice and get no raises.  We have the new Employee Experience, where employees needs for IT support outweighed pay, benefits and horrific management practices.  Did the Chief of Staph or our Chief Peephole Officer come up with that?  Either way, Kindred is culturally toxic. 

The C Suite grows richer by under performing while ignoring abysmal and unethical management.  Ben Breier had a great week personally.  He now controls 1 million shares of Kindred stock.   His holdings went up $950,000 today.  Think about that when you pay the new $8 annual 401k fee, if you are lucky to be able to save for retirement on Kindred pitiful pay.

There are more ways Kindred can throw money at Breier.  The company can buy his house for a premium price, give him additional moving expenses or institute a $1 million bonus just for showing up for work.  The board has done those before for Chief Fleecing Officer Stephen Farber and Kindred Homeboy David Causby.

Kindred executives know how to enrich one another while shafting employees.  I expect any hospice that treats employees as people can raid Kindred of the caring talent that remains.  The work is holy,  but management is hellish.

Anonymous (from Kindredful)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Kindred Management Still Working on Wall Street Promises


Strange Tony,

I recall your finding management's obsession with financial measures limited and uninspiring  When Kindred purchased Gentiva it projected the combined company would produce $1 billion in EBITDAR.

Every year since the buyout management came up short.   Kindred executives announced the shortfall will grow with the sale of the nursing home division.

Kindred had core EDITDAR of $950 million for 2016.  Core EBITDAR declined 3.1% to $950.1 million compared to $980.3 million in the same period in 2015. 

The company reaffirms 2017 guidance for core EBITDAR of $930 million, with a range of $910 million to $950 million.Says for 2018 reaffirms core EBITDAR of approximately $840 million.

Core EBITDAR dropped after management's $1 billion promise.  Kindred's employee numbers also fell since the Gentiva deal.


109,000 -- October 2014 - Kindred plus Gentiva employees
102,000 -- December 2015
100,100 -- December 2016

After announcing Kindred's buyout of Gentiva the number of jobs fell by 8,900.  Benefits deteriorated in nearly every area after Kindred took over Gentiva.  Even taking out of employees pockets Kindred couldn't make its EBITDAR promises.

I feel another sale may be coming.  It was the exit strategy for Gentiva managers who bragged about their ability to operate and the depth of their bench.  All Gentiva executives took the money and all but one ran with their new fortunes.  Only COO David Causby took the money and stayed for a series of $1 million Kindred bonuses.  His next one will come just for showing up on August 1.

Exit is also the route many excellent and underappreciated hospice employees take.  Our site is gearing up for another exodus.  Why is it mostly the good, caring employees who leave?  Why are they designated as not eligible for rehire?

Management is too focused on shallow measures to see the depth of commitment and caring.  They don't know what our site has lost and will lose.  Their eyes and ears are trained on EBITDAR to the exclusion of service and caring.  Executives also ignore competitive pay and benefits for those doing the work.

Anonymous  (from numbers obsessed, underachieving Kindred)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pray LBO Stays Away


Strange Tony,

Financial sharks circle Kindred Healthcare and some are inside the company.  Take former CEO Paul Diaz, who received a $6 million cash bonus in May 2015 for closing the deal on Gentiva.  Diaz went on to become an operating partner with Cressey and Company.  Oddly, his bio on Cressey's website makes no mention of his current Kindred board service.  Diaz is Vice Chairman of Kindred's Board of Directors. 

Should Kindred sell for a premium to Cressey and Company conflict of interest questions would arise.  Should Cressey hire Guidon Partners to co-invest on Kindred more ethical questions would surface.  A Generic Hospice commenter educated me about Diaz role with Cressey and Guidon. How many ways could Paul Diaz make money if those possibilities rang true?  He'd be on both sides of the deal.

Members of Kindred's executive team and board have leveraged buyout organizations, LBO, in their background. Firms include Warburg Pincus, Bain Capital, TPG, Summit Partners, Blackstone Group, Apollo Global Management and the aforementioned Cressey and Company.

Reuters cited two LBO firms as being interested, Blackstone and Apollo Global.  Kindred COO Kent Wallace worked as CEO for Blackstone affiliate, Vanguard Health Systems.  Kindred Board member Frederick Kleisner served on the board of an Apollo affiliate, Apollo Residential Mortgage..

Kindred's management operated much like a buyout firm by purchasing companies with copious amounts of debt.  The Gentiva buyout bought our hospice into Kindred's wider post acute tent, which it now wants to shrink or exit.  The company's obsession with measures and money have been to the detriment of mission and competent management practices at our site.  Mostly stagnant pay and deteriorating benefits have been another part of the Kindred employee experience.

Please let our new owner not be the Hannibal Lechter of finance, LBO or better known by its modern name - private equity.  Lord keep us safe from corporate predators.  For that I pray.

Anonymous (from Kindred-ever-enriching-executives)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Mixed Messages for Employees on Kindred Call


Strange Tony,

Kindred hosted its earnings call last week.  The spin started the day before with the press release on first quarter results:

  • Kindred reported a first-quarter loss of $5.7 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.
  • Consolidated revenues were $1.77 billion, a 3.8% year-over-year decrease.  It was below forecasts of $1.78 billion.  
  • The company expects full-year earnings in the range of 40 cents to 70 cents per share.

It's not a stirring financial report but the stock market reacted positively.  With projected earnings of 55 cents/share (midpoint) Kindred's stock has a price-earnings ratio of over 19 for 2017.  That's a heady valuation for a company potentially on the sale block, especially as it's carrying $3.2 billion in debt.

Hospice and home health held up our end of the delivery equation by doing more with less.

Mr. Breier continued, "In the first quarter, we delivered very encouraging sequential and year-over-year improvement in our Kindred at Home Division, with strong same-store volume growth in both our home health and hospice businesses. Combined with a sequential reduction of labor costs in the first quarter, we returned to historic growth levels and delivered results in line with our 2017 expectations."

The call opened with Breier's usual hollow pander to employees. 

I'd like to start my comments by extending my deep appreciation to our more than 100,000 teammates across the country. Each day our partners at Kindred work hard to improve the lives of the more than 1 million patients we care for annually. We're proud of the excellent care and clinical outcomes we deliver which are direct result of their efforts.

For all the talk of "clinical care" and "results" executives announced the termination of the clinical ladder at the end of 2017 with no plans to replace it.  To boot our branch manager informed staff there are no raises in this year's budget. 

Ben Breier:  "We’re working hard on our merit design and making sure that we're giving people a competitive market increase

We’ve worked hard at our benefit plans, reinstated our 401(k) match, working on a lots of different ways that we can make the employee experience here at Kindred, the teammate experience here at Kindred as best that it can be.

We have made great progress I think in terms of measuring employee satisfaction and the various things we’re doing. "

There's no sign of the PwC annual employee survey, which Kindred conducted twice after buying Gentiva.  The 2016 survey fell into a management hole at our hospice site.  Employees never heard the results and our branch manager said Kindred de-emphasized the survey, which was the direct result of employee feedback efforts.   Apparently, executives measured employee satisfaction and ignored the results

Staff turnover within Kindred at Home actually increased in 2016 to 23.6% from 22.6% in 2015.  That statistic meant having to hire more replacements.

We’re better and better every quarter at recruiting people into the company and keeping people longer.

Actually when you look at our turnover rates and our retention rates, we continue to really outperform even our own expectations. Our turnover remains at really kind of historical lows across our business settings and our retention rates remain at sort of historical high.

So we’re doing we think a lot of the right things, probably not all of the right things. But we are doing a lot of the right things. And I think that it still remains the contested labor market particularly for nurses in the acute setting. And that’s where kind of the real kind of hand to hand fight continues for us.

Executives "hand to hand fight" is against current employees within the company, at least our hospice site.  Our "reinstated" 401(k) match is a fraction of Gentiva's and Kindred's health insurance makes it financially difficult to see a physician outside the annual wellness visit.   

No voice, no raise, clinical ladder pay cuts and ongoing benefits erosion are the Causby/Kindred way.  This might be preparation for the next sellout and another round of executive enrichment.

Gentiva did a number of squirrely things to polish the numbers while Kindred's Paul Diaz courted the company.  Our site has experienced similarly strange but different dollar squeezing initiatives.  They are an impediment to good patient care and employee retention.  Due diligence caused undo harm to employees and patient care in the past.  It may well resurface.  Brace yourself.

Anonymous (from KindredforSale) 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Kindred Might Sell Whole Company


StrangeTony,

It seems like yesterday Kindred was the dark suitor for Gentiva, a hospice and home health giant.  Gentiva CEO Tony Strange held off Kindred's Paul Diaz until the deal price reached an appropriate premium, meaning Gentiva executives would be set for life.

Kindred has been shopping its long term care division and has multiple bidders.  Executives say they could deal the whole company.  "The company says there is also interest in a complete buyout, an option it will be 'willing to engage' if the premium makes sense."

Our hospice has been through multiple buyouts and our employees don't get jack.  Executives rake it in, as can be seen in their change in control compensation.

Our site has been impacted by a deal every two years on average. Not one has made us better. Not one company has treated employees as partners.  Every one has reduced benefits for employees and services for patients.

We should be used to such organizational trauma as often as it happens.  Our hospice may have a slick new owner soon, one that mouths the right words while carving up our hides and taking from our wallets.

I pray Kindred becomes employee owned. That is the only way leadership balance can return and the employee voice can actually be heard.  Right now it is nonexistent.

Anonymous (from Kindredinplay)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Kindred Close to Flipping Farber House for Big Loss

Strange Tony,

Kindred has a contingent contract on the Glenview Avenue home it purchased from Chief Financial Officer Stephen Farber to solve an un-neighborly conflict.  The contingent sale price is $200,000 below the $2.15 million Kindred paid Farber in December 2015.  The company will lose much more on the house as it installed a private driveway, which at one point had an estimated $300,000 price tag. 

That's quite an executive subsidy.  My hospice co-workers struggle to pay for prescriptions and physician visits under our ever worsening health insurance.  For many there is nothing left to set aside for retirement as bills increase far more than company pay. 

Kindred President Ben Breier thanked employees for helping him make $7 million last year.  His outlandish pay is a "direct result of our efforts."  I'm not sure how he and his fellow C-Suiters can sleep at night.  Surely they know they can't take it with them.

As social workers, nurses, and chaplains we get the joy of being with, listening to and helping hospice patients and their families.  That blessing is the balm for Kindred's dismissive stance on our needs for living. 

Happy Easter!  May it bring renewal, peace, joy and a focus on things eternal.

Anonymous (from Kindred which has a $7 million man)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Kindred Accelerates Nursing Turnover Strategy


Strange Tony,

Kindred Hospice designed and implemented new procedures that are driving our hospice nurses away.  The basic features are:

1)  Nurses must enter information into the computer using various forms, including the form the team prepares for our regular Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) meetings.
2)  Nurses must have the IDT form completed in the computer two days prior to IDT for supervisors to review.
3)  Nurses must update the IDT form with new information that arises in the forty eight hours between electronic submission and the actual IDT meeting.  After completing and updating computerized forms nurses must park their electronic medical record device outside the IDT room.
4)  Nurses must be prepared to discuss each patient during IDT.  As they are not allowed to use the computer they used to perform steps 1-3 nurses must create paper documents that pull together key clinical information from a number of computerized clinical forms.  Our nurses are relegated to hand scribing, a tool that existed prior to the printing press, for sharing the written word.  The company has no plans to create this optimal IDT discussion document in the computer system so nurses can press print and meet the company's expectations.  
5)  The nurse cannot make a correction or enter a physician's order during IDT.  They must scribble notes on paper to remind them of computer entries they must make after IDT.  This separation in time and space from the original doctor's medication order introduces an increased opportunity for error at both the nurse's and physician's end.
6)  Phone use is prohibited in IDT.  Nurses are not allowed to take calls, text or use any of their smartphone functions during IDT.
7)  Management can assign any task at any time to any nurse, a death, patient care crisis or admission, and it does not alleviate expectations 1-6.
8)  Nurses must fulfill their clinical load plus the computerized and paper procedures in expectations 1-7 during their 40 hour work week.  Overtime is an absolute no no.
9)  Any nurse that cannot meet expectations 1-8 with a smile and happy face is clearly incompetent and has a bad attitude.  They must be micromanaged, which consists of 99.9% criticism and 0.01% neutral feedback.  Positive judgments are prohibited by branch management and Kindred's Human Abuse department.

The rules are different for nurse managers:

10)  Nurse manager work is too important to take them away for menial tasks like patient visits or a customer service crisis.
11)  Nurse manager work is so stressful that they must take frequent breaks to catch their breath, chit chat in each other's offices and plan what their clique will have for lunch.
12)  Nurse manager work is so routine that they can enter the building at 8:00 am and leave at 5:00 pm each and every day.  
13)  Nurse managers, who don't see patients or know their sex, race or name they like to be called, are allowed to have their computer, use their personal phones for calls and texting, and e-mail one another during the IDT meeting.
14)  Nurse managers endorse and enforce Kindred's opposition to multi-tasking, distributed real-time information sharing and timely processing of physician orders to ensure accuracy.  Nurse managers say "Comply with what does not make sense and maybe corporate will give us permission to do what does makes sense."  That in itself is a form of abuse.

Kindred's nurse turnover strategy is already effective in driving away skilled and competent nurses.  It's early in its rollout.  An exodus is building at our site.

Kindred loves metrics.  Employee turnover increased under Kindred at Home President David Causby.  It rose from 22.6% in 2015 to 23.6% in 2016.   For driving more people away Causby got $245,344 of his $2.7 million in executive compensation for 2016.

How much of our hospice will be left when Kindred at Home President David Causby qualifies for his next $1 million bonus on August 1, 2017?  I expect our nurse quitting statistic to enter record territory.

Anonymous (from the Kindred Kindergarten)

Postscript -- On May 4, 2017 Kindred President Ben Brier said in the first quarter earnings call "We’re going have is we've now talked about, the biggest, I would argue, best run, I would argue most valuable home health, hospice and community care business asset probably anywhere in the country."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Kindred's Putrid Management Practices


Strange Tony,

A Vice President of some sort visited our hospice office last week.  After hearing him speak I found an image summarizing the message he communicated verbally and non-verbally.  It also reflects management practices at our hospice site since Kindred took over.  I didn't think things could get worse than under Gentiva but that happened.  The stench of synergy is significant.

Anonymous (from Kindred, at least one rung lower than Gentiva)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kindred Executives Rewarded for Bad Year


Strange Tony,

Kindred President Ben Breier has 100,000 new shares of stock thus far in 2017 thanks to a generous Board of Directors.  Kindred at Home President David Causby isn't far behind with 85,000 new shares since January 1st.  These rewards occurred after Kindred lost $664 million in 2016.

My pay barely budged last year but the cost to see a physician soared without the physician copay benefit I'd had in all my years with our hospice.  Kindred cut my benefits and this helped boost executive bonuses and stock grants.  Even the Chief People Officer got 12,000 new shares for not watching our backs in the C Suite and Board room.

CFO Stephen Farber received 28,000 new shares.  Kindred marked down Farber's former house to $1.95 million.  Kindred's housing subsidy for Farber could reach $800,000 should the house sell at this price.

Kindred's pattern has executives enriched at every turn while employees wait for crumbs to fall from their table.  This is the antithesis of hospice founding philosophy.  Can I join you in retirement? 

Anonymous (from Kindred loves executives)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Discounted Farber Home Hits Market Again


Strange Tony,

Kindred put CFO Stephen Farber's former home back on the market for just under $2 million.  Before Christmas the company asked $2.4 million for the executive estate. 

The revised price of $1.95 million is $200,000 less than the $2.15 million the company paid Farber in December 2015.  Kindred spent $60,000 designing the separate driveway and up to $300,000 for construction.

Farber's compensation for 2015 should have enabled him to sell his house and find more appropriate neighbors.

The Committee increased Mr. Farber’s base salary from $500,000 to $600,000 to reflect his high level of performance associated with significantly replacing the Company’s capital structure.

Mr. Farber was awarded $350,000 from this special cash award pool for his efforts in connection with these acquisitions.

Mr. Farber’s target award as a percentage of base salary was increased to 60% from 50% in 2015 in connection with his exemplary performance as Chief Financial Officer.

Mr. Farber received a one-time payment of $250,000 to offset relocation and other costs incurred in connection with his relocation

The company awarded stock valued at $841,000 to Mr. Farber for his oversight and leadership of the Company’s financial matters, including his efforts to expand and restructure the Company’s capital structure.

The company used that capital structure to buy Farber's house after giving him another $250,000 in "moving expenses."  That was on top of $110,000 in moving expenses the prior year.  For some reason Farber's exemplary performance did not transfer to successful neighbor relations.

Kindred's housing subsidy for Stephen Farber could cost the company dearly.  If the house sells for asking price Farber's subsidy, direct and indirect, could be $800,000 or more.

Anonymous (from Kindredpoor)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Kindred's Top People Face Against Employees


Strange Tony,

Human Resources was once counted on to balance senior executives who preferred finance, marketing or legal/compliance over people.  Many top dogs got to their lofty slot by flattening their peers.  Such leaders view HR as touchy feely stuff.  True human resources makes many senior leaders uncomfortable.

When executive incentive pay reached stratospheric levels HR became a means for top dogs to achieve obscene pay and cash/stock bonuses.  HR Vice Presidents turned into Chief People Officers, surreptitiously advancing their fortunes and those of fellow C Suiters. 

Kindred's Chief People person has done little to aid employees in my two years plus with the company.   Our health insurance worsened markedly.  Getting paid for one sick day requires a herculean effort.  Kindred cut the retirement match by 40%, eliminated it completely and then brought it back at a fraction of Gentiva's former level.  Where Gentiva would have contributed $2.50 Kindred now gives $1.  That's a 60% cut for some employees.

Legacy Gentiva employees experienced a series of HR intrusions courtesy of two faced executives.  One face publicly highlights employees as the people producing the results.  The other face peers down to pull money out of our wallets and stuff it into their own.  Every benefit reduction that cost employees falls to the bottom line and boosts executive incentive pay.

The company's annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission has no human resource measures like employee satisfaction or turnover. Such metrics disappeared after the ascent of Kindred President Ben Breier and Kindred at Home President David Causby.

The company's board granted our Chief People person 10,000 shares per year his first three years with Kindred.  It's now 12,000 shares a year. That's a 20% bump up in one area of his overall compensation.

Kindred gifted him another 38,000 shares outside the two numbers previously mentioned, bringing his current holdings to 85,500 shares.  Remember this your next doctor visit when you get to pay the whole bill. 

It will take a few weeks to find out how much our CPO and his executive cabal profited from our 2016 pain.  Right now they are hatching plans for 2018's benefits. If you see our Chief People person please ask him how much more they plan to cut?  Some of us need to begin planning.

Anonymous (from Legacy Gentiva)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Kindred Closes on Dreadful 2016


Strange Tony,

Kindred executives told their 2016 financial story to Wall Street analysts on Tuesday.  This is the group that just got free stock from Kindred's Board for losing $7.65 a share.

President Ben Breier opened the call with his usual pander to employees, "I'd like to start my comments by thanking everyone who helped make 2016 such a successful year for Kindred."  So successful that Breier had to cut the employee Christmas gift.   Employees wouldn't have had time to eat it, not with our increased workload.

Kindred at Home delivered another quarter of solid volume.  Hospice delivered same-store revenue growth of 6.5% on same-store admissions growth of 4.4%.

Core EBITDAR margins for both home health and hospice contracted due primarily to nursing labor headwinds. These headwinds came from a combination of the macro labor conditions we spoken about and quite frankly some self-inflicted costs stemming from our continued integration of pay practices and electronic medical record systems. We expect to make meaningful progress on the controllable part of this labor equation in 2017.

There are some exogenous related issues around some wage rate creep in that business but I would view Q4 as much more of a self-inflicted wound as I would and exogenous issue. We have gone through sort of the final stages in that business of consolidating our electronic medical records of consolidating pay practices and what I would really describe the fourth quarter in our Kindred at Home labor line being is really more of a productivity issue than an average wage rate issue.
Productivity is associated with creep and executives in many employee's minds. Consider Breier's comment to analysts:

On the hospice side you may even see high single-digit growth rates there and that you should expect that you know depending on how we're able to deal with our labor issues that a significant portion of that can drop through (to the bottom line and executive incentive pay).
I don't know one coworker who has gotten a high single digit raise in pay in a year, much less a series of years. 

Look we left some dollars on the table clearly because of some of the premium labor issues we're dealing with and I would expect that you'll see some improvement in that number  
Who knew Ben Breier's wager table is our paycheck?  Some employees earned too much last year for the Creep Suiters.  However, most have continued falling behind financially doing the work we love. 

"We have a very focused initiative right here on trying to take more cost out"
As for productivity many of my coworkers donate time to patients.  How much extra free time will executives subconsciously demand as they control the labor equation and take more costs out?  This group wants more than the few thousand free shares they recently received and they will do it on employees backs.

Anonymous (from Kindredful)