Ascension's net income dips by more than $1B in Q1

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St. Louis-based Ascension posted net income of $80.4 million in the three months ended Sept. 30, a more than $1 billion decrease from the same period last year, according to its quarterly financial report. The large decrease was largely driven by a drop in nonoperating gains, which totaled $79.7 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 and $1.2 billion in the same quarter one year prior.

The system, which has 142 hospitals, reported operating revenue of $6.92 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, a 4.7 percent increase from the same quarter in fiscal 2021. Net patient service revenue increased by 6.8 percent year over year to $6.4 billion. Ascension attributed the increase in revenue to larger patient volume from the COVID-19 surge. There were also higher discharges and admissions in the three months ended Sept. 30 compared to the same period last year.

Ascension's operating expenses rose to $6.9 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, a 6.4 percent increase from the same period in fiscal 2021. Expenses rose in all categories except interest. Salaries, wages and benefits increased by $190 million because of an increased use of contract employees, market wage adjustments and onboarding of more physicians, the health system said.

Operating income decreased by $118.6 million to $24.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2022. In the same period in fiscal 2021, Ascension recorded an operating income of $143.5 million. Ascension said in the report that COVID-19 continued to be a problem in 2021, at times forcing the cancellation or deferral of elective procedures. 

The health system received about $4 million in Provider Relief Fund payments in the three months ended Sept. 30, a decrease from $185 million in the same period one year prior.

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