At Upstate, slow and steady wins the race

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CLINTON, N.Y. - Despite a recent acquisition, growth at Upstate HomeCare is slow and steady and that's just the way company officials like it.

"We (strive for) controlled growth," said Greg LoPresti, vice president and COO. "We are not just going to grow for the sake of growing."

Earlier this month, Upstate acquired the assets of Mohawk Valley Home Care, a DME nursing services provider and subsidiary of Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare, a $280 million regional healthcare network.

Upstate will provide home infusion, respiratory and HME services through Faxton St. Luke's and partner with Mohawk on programs aimed at moving patients from the hospital into the homecare setting.

"We do not look at this as just a transaction," said LoPresti. "We entered into a preferred provider relationship. They want to drive initiatives such as decreased length of stay and we have programs that we feel we can help them with."

Such initiatives will dovetail nicely with Upstate's vascular management program, which seeks to get patients out of the hospital and onto home infusion therapy quicker, and its pharmacy business, which can provide medication evaluation, he said.

"These are not new concepts, it's just implementing them is sort of where everyone falls down," said LoPresti.

Upstate has about 120 employees and a 40-county service area. As a result of the Mohawk deal, the provider plans to add about a dozen new positions and double the size off its Clinton headquarters.

Although Upstate is currently in "acquisition mode," LoPresti admits to being "picky" about potential buys.

"We have a lot of offers that come our way," he said. "The metrics have to be in place--otherwise it doesn't make sense. It needs to be the right location; we are looking for distribution and supply chain fit; and lastly, it needs to be a business model that can sustain itself."

That's especially important as competitive bidding casts its shadow over the HME industry. Companies need to grow bigger and more efficient if they are going to survive, said LoPresti.

"Our Medicare is under 20%, so it's manageable," he said. "But as Medicare goes, so go private payers."