In the midst of the greatest pandemic of this century, the healthcare operator focused on the elderly opens four new hospitals, increases its number of beds by 70% and plans to reach new cities. The founder and CEO, Fernando Parrillo, talks about the investments of R $ 350 million and explains the strategy to NeoFeed.
In the beginning of July, the health operator Prevent Senior inaugurates, in the neighborhood of Morumbi, in São Paulo, its ninth hospital in São Paulo. There will be 179 beds, eight operating rooms spread over a building with 24 floors and 41.4 thousand square meters of built area.
The hospitality will be a class A hospital. And the apartments, measuring 45 square meters each, will all have companions. There will also be a helipad. In total, the staff of the new unit will have 869 professionals, of which 282 are nurses (nurses, assistants and technicians).
This is not the only hospital to be opened by Prevent Senior this year. Three more are planned: one in the region of Avenida 23 de Maio, another in the neighborhood of Saúde and, finally, a hospital in the neighborhood of Butantã. All of them located in São Paulo.
In total, the health operator focused on the elderly public founded by Fernando Parrillo and his brother Eduardo, more than 20 years ago, in the Mooca neighborhood, will add approximately 500 new beds to its own network.
With the new beds, the network will reach 1.2 thousand, a jump of 70% in the middle of the greatest pandemic of this century. “What happened has not stopped any investment by the company,” said Fernando Parrillo, president of Prevent Senior, in an interview with NeoFeed.
The investment planned for this year is R $ 350 million. It includes the new hospitals, as well as 15 new smaller care units, which make exams, appointments and procedures simpler.
Prevent Senior also intends to open its first service unit in Rio de Janeiro, where it currently operates through partnerships. In addition, it plans to start operations in Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Brasília. “With the pandemic it became more difficult, but everything is already organized” says Parrillo.
The number of lives served by Prevent Senior also continues to grow. Today, the company has 485 thousand customers, with a portfolio with an average age of 68 years. Since January this year, it has been adding an average of 5,000 lives per month. “The pandemic has not changed our numbers at all. We keep growing. It will be a good year, ”says Parrillo.
Said like that, with tranquility, it seems that Prevent Senior is flying in a brigadier sky in 2020. But the health care provider went through one of the most turbulent periods in its history. Some even thought it would break in the middle of the pandemic, due to the growth of Covid-19 cases from clients in its portfolio and the controversies in which it became involved. And there were many.
When the first deaths due to the new coronavirus began to occur in Brazil, the company’s hospitals won the news because of the number of deaths within their ICUs.
At the end of March, of the 136 deaths in the State of São Paulo, 79 had happened at Prevent Senior’s Sancta Maggiore. The then Minister of Health, Henrique Mandetta, even spoke of an intervention and criticized the fact that the company isolated patients in a single hospital.
The city of São Paulo even asked for an interdiction of two Prevent Senior units and the Public Ministry opened two investigations against the health operator, to see if the company took measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in its units.
Mandetta also criticized Prevent Senior’s business model of creating a portfolio of senior citizens. “He is more of a politician than a financial analyst. I don’t know if you can read balance sheets, ”says Parrillo. “Our model has been standing for many years. And in relation to the pandemic, more still standing because nothing happened. ”
Based on the balance sheets published by Prevent Senior, the company has shown accelerated growth since 2014. In that year, the turnover was R $ 1 billion. In 2019, it reached R $ 3.5 billion. Profit increased even more. In the same period, it went from R $ 56 million to R $ 432.1 million.
Prevent Senior also entered the eye of the storm in the hydroxychloroquine debate, a drug that was considered the first hope of treatment for Covid-19 patients. In April, the company had a research suspended by the National Commission for Ethics in Research (Conep) because it did tests with humans before it received the approval of the commission to carry out the research, which is prohibited in the country.
The Prevent Senior study showed that the use of hydroxychloroquine in conjunction with azithromycin reduced the number of hospitalizations for the disease by up to two times.
The company claimed that the data were preliminary and were clinical evidence for the study to be carried out. And the research was not carried out because it was banned due to this confusion.
The fact is that Prevent Senior has a protocol, since the beginning of the pandemic, to use hydroxychloroquine associated with other medications from the third day of symptoms.
According to the company, 12 thousand patients, out of a total of 210 thousand, have been treated with this protocol since March and the result was efficient in 100% of the cases. “This protocol saved the patients and saved the company,” says Pedro Benedito Batista Jr., physician and executive director at Prevent Senior.
Asked why he saved the company, he claims that if all patients were hospitalized and needed mechanical ventilators, there would be no conditions for care. “In March, we had 80% of mechanical fans occupied”, says Batista Jr. “Today, it is 50%. It is proof that the protocol works.
Prevent Senior also maintains three hospitals dedicated to patient care in Covid-19. But it no longer reports the death toll or occupancy rate. It just says that the occupation has remained stable for the past 40 days.
To date, no scientific research has shown the benefit of hydroxychloroquine in treating Covid-19. Batista Jr. says he agrees with all the studies, but claims that none of them were done based on the administration of the drug from the third day of symptoms.
But it was not just the bet on hydroxychloroquine that helped Prevent Senior to face the pandemic and not to break. The operator, as well as other companies in the sector, adopted telemedicine to avoid crowds in hospitals and provide quick service to its customers.
“They removed 97% of patients from the emergency department with the technology,” says Jeff Plentz, a partner at Techtools Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in healthtechs, who knows the case.