Community Health Systems wants to get back to acquiring hospitals, President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hammons said Tuesday.
In the past year, Community Health Systems has sought buyers for multiple facilities, including hospitals in Florida, West Virginia and North Carolina. But it's not all cuts, Hammons said Tuesday during a presentation at the Bank of America Securities Leveraged Finance Conference. The health system has also pursued acquisition opportunities, although none have come to fruition.
Hammons said the for-profit system wants to acquire more hospitals, starting in existing markets.
The Franklin, Tennessee-based system has reported lackluster financial performance for multiple quarters, a key factor in its most recent divestiture plans. The system reported a $91 million third-quarter net loss, more than double the $42 million loss in the year-ago period. For the year's first nine months, it reported a $180 million loss.
Hammons said despite financial challenges, he doesn't want to wait on growth opportunities. "If we wait until the balance sheet is right for doing acquisitions, we're probably a little bit late to the game," he said.
Earlier this year, executives launched Project Empower, a cost-cutting plan that involves streamlining workflows, standardizing finance and supply chain operations, reducing complex administrative tasks and integrating enterprise resource planning software.
Community Health Systems also is investing in its outpatient footprint.
Hammons said the health system is adding five to eight ambulatory surgery centers and two to five freestanding emergency departments a year. He said it operates ambulatory surgery centers in about 85% of the markets it serves, and those that don't have centers are typically rural areas where it doesn't make sense to have them.
"We believe that we're adequately covered, but continue to look for opportunities in our existing markets. ... Maybe there's a practice out there that is a leading practice in the community that is not affiliated with us," Hammons said.