Florida's hospitals speedily reopened their ambulatory operations after Hurricane Irma, a move that could minimize their risks of a credit downgrade, Moody's Investors Service said in a report.
More than 20 hospital systems in Florida closed physician offices and ambulatory centers before Irma made landfall in the state on Sept. 10.
Those facilities sustained minimal physical damage from the storm, and most have reopened in an effort to keep care steady, said Moody's Vice President Dan Steingart.
"They dodged a bullet by and large," Steingart said.
The affected hospitals should make up the lost outpatient volumes for surgeries and other procedures over the next couple of weeks, he said.
Some business interruption might also be covered by insurance, Steingart said.
Hospitals affected by the storm include Jupiter Medical Center, North Broward Hospital District and Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.
Steingart said Moody's has not downgraded the bond ratings of any hospitals because of the storm.
Bond ratings are important when hospitals go to the bond markets to raise money for growth and capital projects.
Steingart said Moody's will be watching individual hospitals to see how their volumes and cash recover in the coming weeks.
Perhaps the bigger risk is a longer-term one if people permanently leave an area because of the storm, Steingart said.
That's not nearly as likely as after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that left whole sections of the city of New Orleans in ruins, causing many residents to permanently uproot, he said.