CHS CEO Wayne Smith: We're no longer a rural hospital chain

Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems CEO Wayne Smith said the hospital chain has urbanized in recent years, selling off or closing poorly performing facilities in rural areas, according to Nashville Public Radio.

Mr. Smith, who also serves as president and board chairman of CHS, said during a presentation at the J.P. Morgan Chase Healthcare Conference this week in San Francisco that the system's recent selling spree is meant to minimize its outsized debt load that has remained since CHS underwent a significant expansion several years ago.

During the Jan. 9 presentation, he noted that as part of its debt-reduction plan, CHS strategically decided to pull out of rural communities with fewer than 50,000 people — areas that previously constituted the bulk of CHS' business.

"Our markets look a lot more like HCA and Universal [Health Services] and Tenet than they did in the past. We're no longer a non-urban, or for some of you all a rural, hospital company," he said, the report states.

CHS closed three hospitals and sold 18 in 2018, compared to the 30 hospitals it sold the year prior, according to data presented during the conference. The system has reduced its net debt by $1.8 billion since Dec. 31, 2016.

"Those divestitures have helped us in terms of paying down our debt, improving our margins, improving our cash flow, which you will see more of in 2019," Mr. Smith said, according to Nashville Public Radio.

To access the full report, click here.

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