Wayne T. Smith says CHS exited 2016 a stronger company, despite ending year in the red

Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems had a rocky 2016 financially. However, Chairman and CEO Wayne T. Smith has a positive outlook on the company's future.

CHS released its operating results for 2016 on Monday. The for-profit hospital operator ended the year with a net loss of $1.7 billion, compared with net income of $158 million in 2015. Much of CHS' loss in 2016 was due to one-time, noncash impairment charges, which totaled $1.9 billion last year.

"As we look back on 2016, it was a challenging year for our company, during which we made a number of changes to our business with a focus on improving our performance and conditions," said Mr. Smith during an earnings call Tuesday. "Good news is we exited 2016 a stronger company than when we began the year. And we expect to be even a stronger company one year from today."

During 2016, CHS reduced its long-term debt from $16.6 billion to $14.8 billion. On Monday, CHS said it will sell 25 hospitals to further trim its debt load. Mr. Smith said the company has reached definitive agreements for the divestiture of 15 of the 25 hospitals. 

"We're pleased with the progress we've made on our divestitures, and we're also pleased with the strategy that we're starting to make to improve operations at the facilities that will remain part of our organization," said Mr. Smith on Tuesday.

By divesting assets and focusing on improving operating performance at its core hospitals, Mr. Smith expects CHS to become a stronger organization with a sustainable group of hospitals.

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