Community Health Systems, the largest chain by hospital count, has struggled in recent years to maintain patient volume at its rural facilities. But patients have started to return and the company is also capitalizing on cost savings from its 2014 merger with Health Management Associates.
Those factors allowed the Franklin, Tenn.-based chain to return to the black in the first quarter after posting a net loss in the same period last year.
Admissions increased 0.4% on a same-hospital basis, or 2.5% when adjusted for outpatient activity. The chain also managed to slow the growth of its expenses and prevent them from increasing at the same rate as its revenue.
In the aftermath of the HMA deal, Community has been rethinking its portfolio of hospitals. It divested a hospital in South Carolina this quarter and is in the midst of selling two more facilities. It also assumed full ownership of five Oklahoma hospitals that were previously managed through a joint venture with Integris Health.
For the first quarter, Community reported net income of $79 million on $4.9 billion in revenue compared with a net loss of $112 million on $4.2 billion in revenue in the prior-year period.
The chain also spent $8 million to settle several unspecified whistle-blower lawsuits. Those costs, the company said, were separate from those it's incurring from ongoing government investigations into HMA's admissions and billing practices.