Healthcare Business News

Ochsner cites harsh weather for sluggish first half

By Bob Herman
Posted: August 14, 2014 - 5:45 pm ET

Ochsner Health System said an unforgiving winter season negatively affected patient volumes and, consequently, its bottom line in the first six months of the year.

January's massive ice storm, which affected a large swath of states in the South, dragged down outpatient volumes, according to the New Orleans-based system's most recent financial disclosure to bondholders (PDF). Some Ochsner clinics were closed for two days, and much of New Orleans was at a standstill after Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency.

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That led Ochsner to post an $8.1 million operating surplus through the first half of 2014, a 43% drop from the same period in 2013.

However, total revenue increased 13% to nearly $1.1 billion in the first half of this year. Inpatient discharges and inpatient surgeries rose 0.7% and 3.2%, respectively, while outpatient surgeries declined 1.5%. Another major part of the large revenue gain was Ochsner's new agreement with Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma, La.

In tandem with Houma-based Terrebonne General Medical Center, Ochsner provides the day-to-day management of the 74-bed safety net hospital, effective June 24. LJCMC was part of the publicly run Louisiana State University health system, but Jindal enacted a plan this year that outsourced the operations of nearly all LSU hospitals to private hospitals and systems.

Ochsner's total surplus in the first six months this year almost doubled from last year, totaling $39.3 million, as the health system benefited from better investment returns.

Ochsner is the largest not-for-profit health system in Louisiana, owning or operating nine acute-care facilities, according to its website.

Follow Bob Herman on Twitter: @MHbherman

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