- Providence, a Washington-based health system, recorded a $94 million operating loss for the first six months of the year as the system experienced an uptick in labor costs due increased demand as non-COVID-19 volumes return amid a workforce shortage, the system reported.
- Operating expenses for the first half of the year surpassed revenue of $13.4 billion, which was fueled by an increase in salaries and benefits and supplies, according to newly released financial data.
- Providence was able to whittle down its operating loss from this time last year when it posted a $221 million loss.
Providers suffered a blow to operations last year amid the onset of the global pandemic that forced hospitals to put a pause on lucrative elective procedures.
The availability of COVID-19 vaccines provided optimism for a return to normal in 2021, and Providence did see that play out.
As COVID-19 admissions waned, other volumes increased, resulting in a 12% uptick in net patient service revenue compared to the prior-year period.
However, Providence noted that these patients tended to be sicker.
Volume metrics for the system show increases in nearly every key area, including visits to the emergency room and surgeries. But the low uptake of the vaccine as the delta variant surges threatens to undo that progress.
"The reprieve from COVID-19 cases allowed us to focus on other health needs, including care that had been delayed due to state orders, capacity or voluntarily by patients. However, we are once again seeing a surge of infections due to the Delta variant," Providence CEO Rod Hochman said in a statement.
The current surge in cases and hospitalizations is putting some providers back on their heels, overwhelmed by the demand. One Florida health system announced it would have to delay some surgeries in order to avoid stretching resources too thin as COVID-19 cases grew.
The U.S. is averaging more than 108,000 cases and 495 deaths each day, according to the Center for Disease Control's seven-day moving average.
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in areas with high transmission rates and low vaccination rates, according to the CDC. Pediatric cases and hospitalizations are also on the rise.