United Seating & Mobility Acquires Apria’s Rehab Division

United Seating & Mobility (USM) has acquired Apria Healthcare’s power and complex wheelchair division, and the ownership transition is currently underway.

According to a news release distributed July 3 by USM, Apria’s other HME services and products — including respiratory and home infusion — are not affected by the deal. The news release stated that Apria will continue to supply “traditional home medical equipment, including standard wheelchairs.”
Said USM President and CEO Bob Gouy, “The addition of Apria’s capable associates and strategic locations will advance our key initiative to become a leading provider in every market we serve. We are very excited to welcome the Apria staff to the USM team and look forward to the opportunities this expansion brings.”

USM Marketing Manager Cynthia Word, in a July 3 interview with Mobility Management, indicated the ownership transition is underway in the 11 branch offices that USM has acquired from Apria and absorbed.

“We’ve already decided the assets that we want, and we do have lead teams in those locations right now, physically, making the transition,” Word said. She said the transition process for those branches would include switching to USM documentation processes and forms, plus receiving the training and education needed in light of the ownership change. “We will continue to have USM employees in there doing the training and education for the next 30 days,” Word added. “It’s an active process right now. Orders that were in the works have already been taken over by USM.”

Word said USM has evaluated those 11 branches and made decisions on their operating models going forward: “We absorbed some of them, and some of them we will keep as stand-alone operations.” As an example, Word said Apria had Colorado locations that “were all so near our current locations and we’re so well established at our current locations, that they would just be absorbed into our operations there. Then we have Tucson (Ariz.), which is new to us. We’ll keep Tucson; we won’t absorb it into (USM’s) Phoenix branch.”

Beyond those 11 Apria branches now being absorbed into USM, Gouy stated, “We felt that expanding into a large number of new markets simultaneously would undermine our strategic focus. Instead, we took the opportunity to invite several strong regional affiliates to join us in acquiring the remaining Apria locations.”

Gouy said Rehab Tech “will assume the Apria complex mobility operations in Illinois and Minnesota. Rehab Specialties will merge the locations in Dallas and Houston, Texas, and Universal Mobility Equipment will acquire the operation located in Las Vegas.” Rehab Tech, Rehab Specialties and Universal Mobility Equipment are associate members of Wheelchair Professionals, a national contracting group for managed care.

United Seating & Mobility (www.unitedseating.com) has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio and Oregon, with corporate functions headquartered in Earth City, Mo., and Albuquerque, N.M., offices.
Apria Healthcare (www.apria.com) has hundreds of HME locations throughout the country. In June, Apria announced it had “entered into a definitive merger agreement with an affiliate of The Blackstone Group” in a transaction valued at approximately $1.6 billion.

This article originally appeared in the August 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

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