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What's next for American Senior Communities?

Posted at 7:52 PM, Sep 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-16 19:52:03-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- One day after an FBI raid at the home of American Senior Communities CEO James Burkhart, American Senior Communities released the company's first statement.

American Senior Communities’ most important priority is to continue to provide excellent care to our patients and residents. ASC has been contacted by the federal government in connection with an investigation into certain individuals or practices. ASC is fully cooperating with the government and is conducting its own review to ascertain the relevant facts. ASC is in compliance with all federal, state and local laws and regulations and will continue to conduct its business in accordance with the highest standards of integrity.

The nursing home operator employs more than 8,000 people in Indiana and cares for more than 6,000 patients and residents.

Videos on the American Senior Communities website show wholesome images of its nursing home staff caring for patients.

The images are a contrast to what the public saw Tuesday, of an FBI raid on its CEO’s Carmel home and south side office.

RELATED | FBI raids home of American Senior Communities CEO 

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney spoke with Jennifer Dzwonar, principal at public relations firm Borshoff, who specializes in crisis communications.

“Once you throw in FBI or any kind of federal authorities in there, it certainly adds another level of interest for everybody,” said Dzwonar.

Thus far, the investigation appears focused on financial matters, not on patient care, something Dzwonar said may help American Senior Communities’ image.

“If you have a crisis related to how patients are being care for, it’s very different from a financial issue,” said Dzwonar. “Especially if something can be confined to one or two people at an organization, it’s totally different than something insidious to the entire organization.”

One could argue American Senior Communities hasn’t always had the best reputation.

Back in 2010, the company was forced to pay one of the largest Medicaid-related fines in Indiana history for submitting ineligible bills to Medicaid.

Dzwonar said how a company responds to a crisis can depend on how much warning it had before the crisis.

“There’s some crises where there’s a lot of advance notice, and others, very little,” said Dzwonar.

As for the FBI raid, it is unclear if anyone at the nursing home operator saw it coming.

American Senior Communities did not respond to media inquiries until more than 24 hours had passed since the raid began, but Dzwonar said that’s not unusual.

“You take care of your internal people first, meaning the employees and clients under your care,” said Dzwonar. “There will be time to worry about that public perception, but first, take care of your internal people and make sure they have information.”

The investigation could take weeks or even months.

No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed.

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