CHS doesn't expect ER volumes to fully bounce back post pandemic

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Community Health Systems' executives discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected patient volumes and shared predictions for the year ahead during an event Nov. 8 sponsored by Credit Suisse. 

CHS Executive Vice President and CFO Kevin Hammons said the company's hospitals saw a peak surge of COVID-19 cases in September. Though there is still an "elevated number" of COVID-19 cases in CHS' hospitals, the system is starting to see more non-COVID patients and patients returning for procedures deferred earlier this year due to the pandemic, Mr. Hammons said. 

Franklin, Tenn.-based CHS has seen a decline in low-acuity business and lower-paying emergency room business, and some of those patients aren't expected to return. 

"The pandemic has gone on long enough that people have found other sites of care," Mr. Hammons said. 

However, CHS has been able to pick up some of that care because of investments in urgent care, telehealth and clinics, Mr. Hammons said. 

With the investments the company has made in recent years, Mr. Hammons said he's confident CHS will come out of the pandemic with higher market share. 

In financial documents released Oct. 27, CHS said revenues and admissions were down in the three months ended Sept. 30. Revenues fell less than 1 percent year over year to $3.1 billion, and admissions declined 5.5 percent. On a same-hospital basis, admissions were up 2.8 percent and revenues climbed 7.1 percent compared to the third quarter of 2020.

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