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To Affinity & Beyond!


A disruptor in senior living provides lessons on how to thrive in the value-based-care future


Members of Affinity’s Executive Team meet every Monday to review key metrics identified by the organization, allowing them to identify trends, refine processes and address emerging issues quickly.


Anyone who’s been paying attention can see there has been a shift in long-term care over the last 5-10 years. Individuals who used to recover in a hospital are now being discharged to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) shortly after surgery. Those who were previ- ously long-time residents of SNFs are now adapting to assisted living. And operators who were blithely running senior living organizations on a hospitality model are quickly finding themselves…challenged to compete.


This was the overall takeaway I had when I met with Charlie Trefzger, President & CEO of Affinity Living Group, earlier this year. Trefzger’s background testi- fies to the fact that he knows his stuff: During more than 30 years in the healthcare industry, Trefzger has managed the development, acquisition and operation of hundreds of senior living and healthcare facilities, including nursing homes, senior living resi- dences, and their associated operations.


Headquartered in Hickory, NC, Affinity Living Group is the largest provider of senior living services in the southeastern United States (9th largest in the nation) serving over 12,000 residents in 150 senior living


20 SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE MARCH/APRIL 2019


communities. I wanted to learn what makes Affinity’s approach different, to determine what lessons other senior living operators could apply to their business.


Lesson #1) Don’t treat technology as an afterthought, build it into your organization’s infrastructure.


In a world where many senior living operators are still using paper and pen to document caregiving, Affinity realized that the only way to properly scale operations was to invest in the technical infrastructure necessary to support them. For Affinity, this means a two-fold approach: bringing existing communities (e.g., those brought on via acquisition) onto their systems quickly and building a robust technology infrastructure into new buildings at the outset of planning and construction.


“More developers should be thinking about technol- ogy at the construction stage,” advises Trefzger. “It’s much easier to build in the necessary infrastructure during initial construction than to retrofit a building. And because the cost can be rolled into overall con- struction and treated as a capital expense, it’s much cheaper, too.” This philosophy is reflected in the


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