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Incoming Amedisys CEO Chris Gerard made it clear to investors Thursday that he will maintain the home health firm’s laser-sharp focus on mergers, acquisitions and partnerships when he begins leading the company in April.

“The opportunities are strong, the pipeline is strong and our M&A team has done a great job and will continue to deliver,” Gerard said on an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Gerard’s comments came one day after Amedisys reported a difficult end to 2021 that saw its fourth quarter and full year per-share earnings drop 20% and 2% respectively due to ongoing pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company cited staffing shortages from  quarantines, increased labor costs and disruptions in healthcare service due to spikes in the omicron virus in the final months of 2021. 

As Amedisys president and chief operating officer, Gerard was tapped to take over the chief executive position last month when current chairman and CEO Paul Kusserow announced he would retire from the leadership position. 

During the analyst call, Gerard said Amedisys remains on the hunt for home health and possibly hospice assets, but will also look to invest and partner with other innovative companies within its space. Amedisys has invested in businesses such as home health and hospice analytics firm Medalogix and tech-enabled platform ConnectRN.  It also expanded  into hospital-at-home last year with the purchase of Contessa

Kusserow led last summer’s acquisition of Contessa and told analysts the pandemic is transforming the delivery of care and elevating companies like Contessa.

“The appetite and the pipeline there is quite extraordinary. I think the types of discussions have changed from pure hospital-at-home to risk-based palliative, SNF-at-home,” Kusserow explained. 

Kusserow said Amedisys expects the hospital-at-home model will attract new payers over the next several months, as well as clinicians who are looking for an alternative way to deliver care.