- St. Louis-based Catholic giant Ascension posted net income of $5.7 billion for its fiscal year ended June 30, compared to a $1 billion loss during the same time last year, according to financial documents.
- It also made $676 million in operating income for the period, compared to a $639 million operating loss during the same time last year.
- But rebounding volumes didn't quite drive the turnaround, as "ongoing surges of COVID-19 patients and consumer hesitation" persisted, the system said.
Ascension's fiscal year began last summer when COVID-19 continued hitting swaths of the country and vaccines had not yet been authorized or made widely available. While the pandemic is still ongoing with the highly infectious delta variant, Ascension has turned its financials around in the time since.
But hospitals are certainly not out of the woods yet, as the delta variant is causing facilities at some parts of the country to once again be at capacity. That means putting off lucrative non-emergency procedures. The surge is hospitalizations will lead to pressure on margins, Fitch Ratings said recently. That's especially true as hospitals find themselves short on staff and other resources.
Kaufman Hall's most recent monthly report on hospital performance had similar findings.
For Ascension's fiscal year, equivalent discharges and admissions were down 2.2% and 3.1% compared to the prior year.
And emergency room visits and urgent care visits for the year were down 10.7% and 27.6% compared to the year prior.
But net patient service revenue rose 7.3% during the period to $24 billion, from $22 billion in the prior-year period.
Sicker patients, including COVID-19 positive patients, drove net patient service revenue per discharge up nearly 10%. Plus, Ascension said patients stayed longer, too, contributing to this increase in patient service revenue.
The non-profit system generated $27.2 billion in revenue, compared to $25.3 billion during the same time last year.
The pandemic has also boosted hospitals' expenses, mainly labor and supply costs. Ascension's operating expenses rose 3.8% during the year.
Total salaries wages and benefits expenses rose 4.3% during the period, while supply expenses rose 10.1%.
Currently, Ascension has 341 days of cash on hand, compared to 284 in June of last year.