CHS posts $68M loss in Q1 amid a 14% decline in admissions due to pandemic

Community Health Systems posted a net loss of $64 million for the first quarter of 2021 as the hospital chain faced a 14% decline in admissions due to the pandemic.

The hospital chain posted net operating revenues of $3.01 billion for the first quarter in earnings results released late Wednesday. It also posted adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization of $495 million. The net loss was compared to net income of $18 million for the first quarter of 2020 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our market leadership teams continue to adjust their operating models as COVID cases fluctuate, by managing shifts in volumes, revenue and expenses to achieve the best possible results,” said Tim Hingtgen, CEO of CHS, in a statement.

CHS reported a 14% decrease in admissions and a 15.8% decline in adjusted admissions compared to the first quarter of 2020.

“On a same-store basis, admissions decreased 4.9% and adjusted admissions decreased 7.2% for the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared with the same period in 2020,” CHS said in its earnings release.

But net operating revenues did increase nearly 10% for the quarter thanks to changes in the “mix of services provided and payor mix compared to the prior period.”

CHS had 9,400 COVID-19 admissions in the first quarter as the hospital faced winter surges of the virus, a major boost from the 8,000 admissions it posted for the fourth quarter of 2020, said Hingtgen in an earnings call Thursday.

But the surge in cases started to dissipate in March.

“We experienced various waves of new COVID-19 cases from month to month,” he added. “Our hospital leadership teams have continued to adjust extremely well to the continuing business environment.”

CHS, like other hospitals across the country, has faced increased expenses for staffing and supplies due to the pandemic. Hingtgen expects those costs to dissipate in the near future as COVID-19 cases decline with the spread of vaccinations. 

“As we looked at the rest of the year, [we] expect cash flow operations to improve,” he said.

Several other for-profit hospital chains such as HCA and Tenet Healthcare have been able to post profits during the first quarter on the backs of higher acuity from treating COVID-19 patients.

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