By Samantha Fischgrund ’20 and Ellen Qiu ’20

In early March, Samantha Fischgrund ’20 and Ellen Qiu ‘20 attended the Spring NIC Conference in San Diego. Samantha and Ellen were selected to represent Columbia Business School and were among seven scholars selected nationally by NIC to represent future talent in the Seniors Housing Industry. The NIC Conference brings together hundreds of investors, operators, and developers across the seniors housing and healthcare sectors.

The Spring NIC Conference offered a plethora of educational sessions in addition to networking sessions aimed at the evolving seniors housing industry and how the growth of this industry will affect healthcare in the long term.

With a theme in Investing in Senior Housing and Healthcare Collaboration, some session highlights included listening to Christy Stone from Welltower, Chris Wettig from Legend Senior Living, Joel  Mendes from JLL, and Jerry Taylor of Solera Senior Living discuss “Executing a Payroll Play” which explored how investors contemplating an opportunity should carefully investigate the financial impact of higher-than-average staff turnover, forecast minimum wage increases, and other operational issues.

One educational highlight involved a uniquely formatted session based on the popular TV show, Project Healthcare: Designing Integrative Care Models That Work,” featuring three innovators, a panel of judges, and a real runway. In this session, Maria Nadelstumph from Brandywine, Patricia McBride from Christian Living Communities, Sarah Walmsley from BAYADA Home Health Care, Richard Nix from Yardi, and Dennis McCarthy from SRI Management discussed substantive ideas and drew a standing-room-only crowd to delve into successful models of care integration in seniors housing. 

Another current topic was discussing telehealth. Attendees learned that using video to bring physicians or specialists into patients’ residential settings generates equivalent outcomes to physical appointments--but without the hassle of transportation or the well-known risks of hospital visits.  In today’s COVID-19 crisis, these innovations will be critically important for the industry.

In addition to all the well-designed sessions, the ways in which innovation and technology were utilized in the NIC Conference also enhanced the entire experience. Attendees were offered the opportunity to test out the NIC MAP data service as well as enjoy the very interactive networking space.

This year, the conference was held at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in our country. Notable players in the sector were absent in order to protect the seniors that they serve. Taking the Coronavirus crisis into account, it has only motivated Samantha and Ellen in their interest in this industry as they know there is both an economic and ethical opportunity for their future careers.

Samantha Fischgrund is an MBA student in the class of 2020.  After graduation Samantha will be joining Welltower, a Seniors Housing and Healthcare REIT. Prior to CBS, Samantha worked as the Executive Director of The Bristal Assisted Living at Armonk in addition to as a healthcare consultant with Huron Consulting Group. Samantha graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2012 with a BS in Human & Organizational Development and Corporate Strategy.

Menglan (Ellen) Qiu is the VP Case Competition of the Real Estate Association and a member of the Class of 2020. This past summer she interned in the Real Estate Investment Banking Group at Credit Suisse in New York. Before business school, Ellen was a founding member of the real estate group at WeWork China, and a Manager of the Investment and Capital Markets team at Cushman & Wakefield. Ellen received a Master’s Degree with a specialization in Real Estate from Brandeis University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Nottingham. She is also an Alexander Bodini Real Estate Fellow at Columbia Business School.

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