- Providence, one of the nation's largest health systems and the first to admit a COVID-19 patient last year, says it is "turning a corner and seeing signs of renewal" as the tally of COVID-19 patients has fallen dramatically since the start of the first quarter when cases reached their highest peak in January.
- Still, despite the improved outlook the high COVID-19 caseload in January weighed heavily on the system's financial results as it was forced to temporarily delay care for those without the novel coronavirus to respond to the onslaught of COVID-19 patients. Ultimately, the system reported a net operating loss of $222 million for the quarter due to the interruption in care, resulting in lower volumes and lost revenue. That compared with a loss of $276 million a year earlier.
- The Midwestern giant, Advocate Aurora Health reported a similar story for the quarter ended March 31. "Operations have been slowly improving" as more people get inoculated against the disease and as the system works to better contain rising costs, it said. Unlike Providence, Advocate Aurora did post a profit of about $352 million, an improvement from the $1.3 billion loss in the same period last year.
The nation's hospital sector appears to be bouncing back — to varying degrees — from the pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Providence, a Washington state-based health system, said the results from the first few months of the year signal a "return to more normal operations."
At the start of the year, Providence had an average weekly census of more than 2,000 COVID-19 patients. Those figures have now retreated to "pre-surge levels," the health system said. Even patients admitted to the intensive care units have fallen.
Despite the unprecedented events of 2020, Providence was still able to post a profit at the end of last year thanks in large part to non-operating gains.
Providence has a portfolio of 52 hospitals with a footprint spanning seven states, including Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Advocate Aurora, another of the nation's largest nonprofit health systems, also reported improved performance compared to the prior-year period as the novel coronavirus was starting to significantly weigh on operations.
Advocate Aurora was able to bounce back from a significant loss in the first quarter of last year, reporting net income of nearly $352 million for the first quarter of this year.
Still, the system reported declines in nearly all key volume metrics, including discharges, hospital outpatient visits and physicians visits for the quarter. However, home care visits for the quarter were up nearly 9%.
Advocate and Providence's for-profit peers previously signaled some optimism after releasing first quarter results. All but one of the major for-profit chains posted profits as they reported recovering patient volumes. Yet, Kaufman Hall has tempered that optimism by saying margins were still narrow as results were mixed across the sector.