Rural hospital operator SunLink Health Systems, Atlanta, said its earnings for the quarter ended March 31 were weighed down by debt the system incurred last year to acquire two hospitals from now-defunct HealthMont. SunLink earned $329,000, or 5 cents per share, for its fiscal 2004 third quarter, compared with $643,000, or 12 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 44.5% to $30 million, thanks to the two acquired hospitals and increases of 16.8% in equivalent admissions and 13.9% in surgeries, both on a same-hospital basis. For the nine months ended March 31, SunLink reported a loss of $879,000, or 19 cents per share, compared with a profit of $92,000, or less than 1 cent per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue was up 35.3% to $92.3 million. SunLink is selling its largest hospital, 26-bed Mountainside Medical Center, Jasper, Ga., for $40 million, with net proceeds of $35 million. SunLink's balance sheet shows $32.6 million in long-term debt. The company said the proceeds also will set the stage for expansion projects and acquisitions. SunLink will own or operate seven hospitals after the sale of Mountainside is completed later this quarter.
In other investor-owned hospital news, four Oregon subsidiaries of Symphony Healthcare, Nashville, filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland, Ore. The company is winding down its operations after closing its only two hospitals, both in Portland. A group of former employees filed pre-emptive bankruptcy petitions for two of the subsidiaries in the same court in March, seeking Chapter 7 liquidation. -- by Vince Galloro