Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., said profits for the first quarter ended March 31 increased 21% to $40.7 million, or 39 cents per share, on rising admissions and acquisitions. The company earned $33.5 million, or 33 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue in the 2004 first quarter rose 25% to $822.4 million. Adjusted admissions climbed 2.1% and operating profits 8.5% at the 69 hospitals Community operated in both quarters. The gains offset rising bad debt expense, which grew to 10.5% of revenue from 9.5% of revenue for the year-ago quarter. Last week HCA lowered its earnings forecasts, saying bad debt expense was climbing even faster than it expected. Community also trimmed labor costs as a percentage of revenue, to 40.2% from about 40.8%. The company owns or operates 72 hospitals. -- by Vince Galloro
At Community, admissions help offset bad debt
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