Inside the corporate dash to buy up dentists’ offices, veterinary clinics and pharmacies

Stephen Hughes/The Globe and Mail

Jordyn Hewer had a plan: Go to veterinary school, get a decade of experience under his belt and then buy his own practice.

The first two steps went off without a hitch. He graduated from the University of Montreal’s veterinary school in 2011. He spent the next 10 years working as a small-animal veterinarian in private practices and shelters in Quebec and Ontario.

But it’s when he got to the third step – buying his own practice – that he ran into a serious problem. In the intervening years, the whole industry had changed.

Major corporate players had entered Canada’s veterinary industry, including VetStrategy – backed by U.S. private-equity firm Berkshire Partners, and recently merged with European pet-care chain IVC Evidensia – and VCA Canada, owned by international confectionery giant Mars Inc. The corporate chains were buying up independent veterinary practices, sparking bidding wars that saw the price of vet practices balloon from three or four times annual gross earnings to 10, 20, even 30 times that at the beginning of this year.

The buyouts meant multimillion-dollar paydays for veterinarians who already owned a practice. But for ambitious young professionals like Dr. Hewer, there was no way to compete. Even if he could somehow secure the funding to buy a practice at the prices they were now going for, he would be saddled with a mountain of debt he would struggle to pay off.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Dr. Hewer, who chose to leave the industry to work for a pet-food manufacturer. “When you translate that to how much debt that represents and how much you would need to pay that back in, let’s say, a five- to 10-year period, the numbers never add up.”

Fuelled by international private equity funds, consolidating firms have been on a tear in other health-professional fields as well, buying up practices in fields such as veterinary medicine, dental care, optometry and pharmacies and assembling them into chains. Practitioners who sell to corporate owners typically get back-office support through the firm’s technology and staff, help with marketing, and reduced management responsibilities. The buyers, meanwhile, get businesses with steady streams of revenue, and profits that can be boosted by centralizing equipment and administrative functions, and ordering supplies in bulk. In the vast majority of cases, the old branding remains intact after a purchase happens, so patients and customers have no idea their once-independent practice has been taken over by corporate ownership.

Consolidation within these fields is still relatively low in Canada, but it is building fast – in less than a decade, nearly a quarter of vet practices have been bought by corporate owners.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Douglas Jack, a leading veterinary lawyer at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. “I’ve been practicing law for 37 years. It just became a frenzy among the consolidators.”

The recent acquisitions are part of a wave of increased activity from private-equity firms across the globe, as they search for new fields to generate

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No cost N95s: Here is how to get totally free masks from pharmacies or neighborhood health centers

The program is portion of the Biden administration’s energy to distribute 400 million no cost N95 masks from the Strategic Nationwide Stockpile by using pharmacies and neighborhood overall health centers. The software is anticipated to be thoroughly up and jogging by early February. The masks are arriving at their destinations with accompanying flyers and signage from the US Division of Wellbeing and Human Companies, which paid for the masks.

Participating pharmacies involve Hy-Vee, Meijer, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger.

US pharmacies are rolling out free N95 masks as free Covid-19 tests begin to arrive in the mail

Some of the first masks arrived in the Midwest on Friday, which includes at Hy-Vee grocery suppliers in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Nebraska and at Meijer retailers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Masks also are envisioned to start out arriving at Southeastern Grocers destinations as early as Friday, and they’ll be available at Fresco y Más, Harveys Grocery store and Winn-Dixie in-store pharmacies.

CVS pharmacies are also anticipated to obtain and start distributing no cost N95 masks in the coming weeks as supply from the federal federal government comes in, spokesman Matt Blanchette advised CNN on Monday.

Walgreens expects that absolutely free N95 masks will be available at some destinations starting Friday, according to a firm spokesperson.

“We are pleased to spouse with the Administration to make N95 masks in different dimensions available cost-free of charge at participating Walgreens areas though materials final,” a Walgreens spokesperson wrote in an electronic mail to CNN on Monday.

“Buyers and individuals can choose up a utmost of three masks for every human being,” the email mentioned. “We expect the initial stores to start out featuring masks on Friday, Jan. 28, and will continue on on a rolling foundation in the days and months subsequent. Taking part stores will have signage indicating mask availability.”

Kroger shops with pharmacies also system to distribute free of charge N95 masks, according to a business statement Monday.

“Putting on a mask and having vaccinated carry on to be the leading defense tools in our nation’s struggle versus COVID-19. I encourage anyone to just take advantage of the cost-free non-surgical N95 masks and make an appointment today to get vaccinated or boosted,” Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger’s main health-related officer, claimed in the statement.

Community health and fitness facilities are predicted to distribute masks also, but on a scaled-down scale.

Biden administration to distribute 400 million N95 masks to the public for free
The 1st 100 facilities collaborating in the rollout of the federal government’s no cost N95 mask method will start out this week, Amy Simmons Farber, a spokesperson for the Nationwide Association of Community Wellbeing Facilities, wrote in an electronic mail to CNN on Monday.

The Overall health Means and Expert services Administration oversees the Community Wellness Facilities plan for the federal authorities and notes on its website that the HRSA Wellness Center COVID-19 N95 Mask Method will get started incrementally, giving N95 masks to about 100 to 200 health centers in the initial phase.

“These overall health centers ought to get and begin distributing masks in advance of the stop of January 2022,” in

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