In 2019, a Kindred at Home veteran left the company to make a bet on non-medical home care and become the leader of Nightingale. Nearly three years later, he persuaded another former Kindred executive to do the same.
Brandon Ballew and Derek Nordman are now at the helm of the Atlanta-based Nightingale, as CEO and COO, respectively.
As Kindred neared its sale to Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), Ballew decided to test the home care waters. The private equity firm Coppermine Capital put its two personal care portfolio companies together and named Ballew its leader. Nordman joined the team early in 2022.
Both believe that their experience in home health care gives them a unique perspective on the home care world and the value it can provide.
“I think we have a unique focus on the different levels of care that it takes to service a client in totality,” Nordman told Home Health Care News. “You’ve got that skilled piece, and you might need hospice down the line. But today, there’s not a large enough focus on that personal care aspect – that is the linchpin. Having that knowledge from the past after seeing some of those gaps, and being able to solve some of those gaps in this company, was [intriguing].”
Nightingale offers clinically complex care, skilled nursing, personal care and companion services in eight states: New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.
As Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and other value-based care programs try to coordinate the path of care for older adults, home care is often overlooked, Nordman said.
Ballew and Nordman both believe that the personal care space is still an area of untapped potential.
“Just because [a senior] is covered under Medicaid and they’re not homebound doesn’t mean they don’t have needs,” Ballew told HHCN. “On the skilled side, this was always a hole. … But at the same time, [home care providers] are not used to thinking about the clinical needs of the patient as much. They just know that if someone is in the home, the odds of them going to a skilled nursing facility and needing that 24/7 care go down dramatically. We’re trying to bridge that gap.”
Nordman, who was officially announced the new COO of Nightingale on Jan. 24, was previously the chief clinical officer at Kindred at Home. That experience is one of the main reasons Ballew and Nightingale sought him out for the new role.“
One piece of the opportunity that drew me was Nightingale being much different in its clinical nature than most home care companies,” he said. “Clinical is my background, and being able to leverage that into this new space – that historically has not necessarily been clinically focused – was [alluring].”
Previously, Nightingale did not have an acting COO.
“The other piece was the size of the company, the fact that it was in a certain regard in its infancy,” Nordman said. “We’re really just beginning to build this this thing. The lure of being able to get in and have true hands on the process was something that really intrigued me and brought me to Nightingale versus a larger entity.”
Bringing a clinical focus to home care can mean a lot of things.
Plus, it’s worth mentioning that there are many home care providers that already hone in on clinical characteristics. In fact, many home health care companies have a personal care service line.
At the same time, only 18% of home care companies tracked readmissions last year, according to the advisory and research fom Home Care Pulse. And Nightingale wants to dive deeper into data.“
We’re heavily engaged with software vendors to make sure we can capture that data,” Ballew said. “Historically in this space, there’s tracking of time and attendance. We want to track what the caregiver saw, what they did and how the client was doing that day.”
While Nightingale is still – as Nordman put it – in its infancy, it already has a decent-sized footprint.
But its goal is to be one of the larger home care providers in the country. To do that, it’s going to take a multifaceted approach.
“We will employ a de novo strategy close to our existing markets, and a lot of times, that’s inside a state we’re in or right on the border in another state,” Ballew said. “But we will continue to be acquisitive as well. We will probably stick to the East Coast until we get enough density. I have always found in my career that density makes life a lot easier. We don’t want to put random dots in Washington, for example. But we’ll fill in the East Coast, and then we’ll start moving west.”