- Ascension, one of the nation's largest nonprofit health systems, posted a net loss of $1 billion for the year ended June 30, as the system battled the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Last year it reported net income of $1.2 billion.
- Ascension also posted an operating loss of $465.3 million as expenses outpaced revenue due to depressed volumes in all key metrics including ER visits, surgery and admissions.
- Still, the behemoth health system with more than 150 hospitals ended the year with a staggering 284 days of cash on hand.
Nonprofit hospital operators reported mixed success for the first half of the calendar year as many tried to grapple with the virus and the ripple effects it has caused.
Ascension was in line with many other operators that reported clipped volumes due to mandated shutdowns earlier in the year and consumer wariness to return to a healthcare setting.
However, similar to many other operators, it reported that returning patients tend to be sicker or more complicated patients.
The St. Louis-based system's case mix index increased 2.4% for the fiscal year, though during the final quarter of the year, it increased by an average of 5%.
"This increase is primarily due to higher acuity patients, including COVID positive patients, seeking care during the pandemic," the report stated.
For the year ended June 30, Ascension reported volume declines in all major metrics and, as such, net patient service revenue dropped nearly 4% for the year compared with 2019.
However, prior to the onset of the pandemic, Ascension said net patient service revenue was up 4.2% through February.
By the final month of the year, Ascension was starting to recapture a larger share of its patients — and outpacing pre-pandemic levels in one instance.
In the month of June, volumes tipped closer to pre-COVID levels with outpatient surgeries reaching 93% of the traffic obtained one year earlier in June 2019. More broadly, outpatient visits hit 92% of volumes logged in June 2019. Providing a modest bit of hope for the remainder of the calendar year, physician office and clinic visits were ahead of volumes captured in June 2019.