Gentiva re-enters infusion business

Monday, July 31, 2006

MELVILLE, N.Y. - Gentiva Health Services re-entered the infusion business in June, acquiring a home infusion company and a hospice company.
Gentiva bought Cooksville, Tenn.-based Lazarus House Hospice and Charlotte, N.C.-based Carolina Vital Care, a home infusion pharmacy serving patients in the Carolinas, for $4.5 million cash. The pharmacy will operate as Carolina Infusion Care, serving patients in seven counties.
But don't look for Gentiva to make an aggressive move into home infusion, say industry watchers, who speculate the acquisitions are strategic buys to augment the company's February purchase of the Healthfield Group, an Atlanta-based home and hospice health provider.
"Healthfield has a decent-sized home infusion business," said Kevin Palamara, a director at Boston-based Provident HealthCare Partners. "(It makes sense) to grow in markets where they're strong."
Dexter Braff, president of the Braff Group in Pittsburgh, Pa., which represented Carolina Vital Care in the transaction, agreed that the acquisition made sense.
"Healthfield has a cadre of complementary services, including infusion, and they've done very well integrating those ancillary services into their core services," said Braff. "I think any acquisition efforts in expanding beyond the healthcare core is going to come through the Healthfield footprint."
Gentiva is no stranger to infusion, said Braff.
"They had a significant amount of revenues being generated from specialty pharmacy and infusion about five or so years ago," said Braff. "They decided to divest their interest and focus on the home health side of the equation."