A California-based health care services company is buying nine nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Iowa and Nebraska. Ensign Group is purchasing five homes in Iowa, four in Nebraska, from Sioux City-based Careage  Management. Dan Myers, of Sioux City, is president and CEO of Careage.

“This will be a sale of all of our facilities and Careage Management as we know will be done operating with the sale to Ensign,” Myers says. “We’ve been in business for almost 12 years. We started with four facilities and gradually built to ten.” The sale price was not disclosed. Myers says Ensign will keep all employees in place as -no- staffing changes are planned.

“The time is right in some ways but it’s been a very gut-wrenching decision because of the relationships that we’ve built,” Myers says. “That’s going to be the hardest part is missing the people. It will not be tough to not be part of a heavily-regulated profession, but very much much bittersweet.”

The Ensign Group operates skilled nursing, assisted living, home health and hospice services at 87 facilities in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, California, Arizona, Texas, Washington and Nevada. Myers says Careage contemplated offers from various suitors before settling on Ensign. He says they decided to go with Ensign because the two companies have similar management strategies.

“Very much relationship driven, they very much place a lot of emphasis at the local level,” Myers says. “They’re not centrally managed and put a lot of the decision-making abilities with the local administrators, directors of nursing, the local staff there to run the facilities as they see fit.”

The Iowa long-term care facilities are located in: West Bend, Cherokee, Hawarden, Fort Dodge and Clarion — and in Nebraska in: Beatrice, Falls City, Randolph and Wayne. Combined, the facilities have some 550 skilled nursing beds and 72 assisted living units. The pending transaction also includes Careage Home Care, a home health agency based in Cherokee, Iowa. The sale is expected to be finalized July 1st.