UHS sees profit drop 39%, pulls 2020 guidance

King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services saw its net income drop 39 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to recently released financial results. 

The 26-hospital system, which also operates 331 behavioral health facilities and 42 outpatient sites, recorded a net income of $142 million in the three months ended March 31, compared to $234.2 million in the same quarter in 2019.

The health system posted net revenue of $2.83 billion in the first quarter of 2020, up 0.9 percent from the $2.80 billion reported in the same period in 2019. 

UHS said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had "a material unfavorable effect" on its operations and financial results in the first quarter. 

"Patient volumes at our acute care hospitals and our behavioral health care facilities were significantly reduced during the second half of March as various COVID-19 policies were implemented by our facilities and federal and state governments," UHS stated. 

The health system said those patient volume disruptions have bled into April as well. 

UHS said that the full effect of COVID-19 on its operations and financial results will depend on many factors, most of which are "beyond our capability to control or predict." As a result, the system is withdrawing its previously issued financial guidance for 2020. 

To help offset the financial stress created by the decline in patient volumes, UHS said it has suspended its stock repurchasing program, halted payments of quarterly dividends, reduced the magnitude of capital projects and introduced initiatives to improve labor productivity. 

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