Community Health Systems managed to narrow its operating loss in 2019 through divestitures and other strategies, although the shortfall remains substantial.
The Franklin, Tenn.-based hospital chain reported Wednesday a net loss to stockholders of $675 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, down from $788 million in 2018. CHS' net operating revenue was $13.2 billion last year, a 6.7% decline from $14.2 billion in 2018, due largely to having divested 12 hospitals over the course of the year. CHS ended the year with 102 hospitals.
On a same-store basis, CHS' admissions increased 1.3% last year and adjusted admissions grew 2.2%. Net operating revenue grew 4.2% in 2019 when viewed on a same-store basis. On a consolidated basis, admissions declined 11.1% last year.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, CHS' operating loss widened to $373 million, from $328 million in the prior-year period. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $447 million in the fourth quarter, up 6.7% from $419 million in the prior-year period.
On a same-store basis, admissions were flat at 0.1% in the final quarter of the year. Adjusted admissions were up 1.8% on a same-store basis.
CHS expects to shrink further in 2020, with operating revenue projected to range between $12.4 billion and $12.8 billion. CHS first unveiled its 2020 guidance last month at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be between $1.65 billion and $1.8 billion, and CHS projects to boost its same-store admissions growth to between 1.5% and 2.5%.
CEO Wayne Smith said in a statement CHS finished 2019 strong.
"Our successful divestiture program, along with strategic growth initiatives in our core portfolio of markets, has driven better results, including improved same-store volume and net revenue growth in 2019," he said. "As we enter 2020, we expect to deliver incremental growth, driven by a combination of continued same-store net revenue performance and execution across our strategic margin improvement programs."