The hospital chain's large south Florida operations came through Hurricane Matthew earlier this month with only “minor disruptions” thanks to the preparation of regional management and employees, HCA CEO Milton Johnson said during a third-quarter earnings call with analysts Thursday.
HCA has several hospitals on both coasts of Florida, starting with a major hub in the Miami area.
Johnson saluted Florida staff while reporting another solid earnings quarter at HCA, the nation's largest investor-owned hospital company.
In the third quarter, the chain posted net income of $618 million, or $1.59 per share, compared with net income of $449 million, or $1.05, in the year-earlier quarter.
HCA saw same-facility hospital admissions grow 1%, emergency room visits increase 3% and inpatient surgeries edge up 1%, the company reported.
Revenue in the third quarter grew about 4% to $10.27 billion from $9.86 billion in the year-earlier quarter.
HCA chief operating officer Sam Hazen said during the call that hospital admission volumes across the company have settled into a 2% growth track, which is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
HCA saw admissions growth in 10 of its 14 major markets, Hazen said.
Meantime, the company has been using its growing cash flow to build out the delivery network in those key markets, he said.
For example, HCA has 56 urgent care centers open today across the country compared with a dozen five years ago. That's providing greater patient access for communities, and a lower price point for payers, he said.
HCA expects to have more than 70 centers open by early 2018, Hazen said.
Cash flow from operations totaled $1.2 billion in the third quarter compared with $1.1 billion in the year-earlier quarter. In addition to using the cash for growth, HCA has been repurchasing common shares to bolster the price of its stock.
In answer to an analyst's question, Johnson said HCA and its board of directors will review whether to initiate its first dividend since the company went public in 2011. He said either way, stock repurchases are expected to continue in 2017.
HCA expects to generate another $750 million in cash in the first half of 2017 by selling its interest in Oklahoma University Medical Center and OUMC Edmond to an affiliate of the University Hospitals Authority and Trust (UHAT) for $750 million, the companies announced Wednesday.