After nearly finishing its plan to streamline its community portfolio and hitting its financial goals for the year, the Brentwood-based senior living company Brookdale is adding a healthcare executive to its board of directors.

Jordan Asher will serve as an independent director starting this week. Asher has 20 years of experience working with health care companies. He served as the chief physician executive for the Sentara Healthcare network in Virginia. He has also held leadership roles at Ascension.

Asher’s appointment increases the size of Brookdale’s board to nine directors total.

His appointment follows positive financial results for 2019, which the company released on February 18.

The company cut its losses in half compared to the previous year, reporting a net loss of $268.5 million for 2019 compared to a loss of $528.4 million in 2018. 

Brookdale CEO Baier cited positive financial results as a sign that the company’s turnaround strategy is working.

“Since we announced our turnaround strategy, we have consistently delivered on our guidance targets,” Baier said on a conference call earlier this month. “We have successfully navigated transformational changes to reshape our business and better position Brookdale for positive senior demographics and anticipated industry tailwinds.”

When Baier stepped into the CEO role in early 2018 she hoped to rebound from several years of poor financial performance by continuing to trim the number of communities in its portfolio and reduce operating costs. 

On a conference call this month, Baier said Brookdale is nearly done streamlining its community portfolio. The company has achieved its goal of generating $250 million by selling communities. Brookdale reduced the number of communities by 14% in 2019. The portfolio has shrunk by about a third since 2014 when it acquired its competitor Emeritus. 

Brookdale has also simplified its business by reducing the number of communities is manages but doesn’t own and purchasing communities it previously leased. In January, the company bought 26 communities it had been leasing. 

Baier said the company has also delivered on lowering costs. After an expensive third quarter, the company committed to reducing costs even further. 

That streamlined portfolio meant smaller revenues—Brookdale reported $4 billion in revenues in 2019, compared to $4.5 billion in 2018—but also led to lower operating costs. The company reduced spending on operations by about $1 billion in 2019.

The company’s stock price shot up more than 17% following the release of financial results. Fears about the coronavirus outbreak led to a drop in the broader market and Brookdale’s share price fell back down.

Baier briefly addressed the coronavirus outbreak on the conference call, telling investors that staff are on high alert and have training to deal with contagious viruses. 

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