COVID surge made Q3 harder than Q2


Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s CEO said Tuesday the third quarter was in many ways more challenging than the second, with COVID-19 patients surging about 64% across its hospitals in late July and August.

Some of Dallas-based Tenet’s volume metrics ticked back down in September after making strong recoveries earlier in the summer. Admissions, for example, were 90% of prior-year levels in July. By September, that had declined to 88%.

“Our operators executed exceptionally throughout our entire system, ensuring they cared for the surge in COVID patients and continued the safe return of non-COVID patient volumes closer to normalized levels,” Tenet CEO Ron Rittenmeyer said in a statement accompanying the company’s third quarter results.

Tenet reported a net loss from continuing operations attributable to shareholders of $197 million in the third quarter of 2020, down from a $227 million net loss in the prior-year period.

For-profit Tenet’s $4.6 billion in net operating revenue in the quarter was effectively flat year-over-year. Expenses declined by just under 1% year-over-year to $4.3 billion in the recently-ended quarter.

Tenet’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $551 million in the third quarter of 2020, down from $639 million in the prior-year period.

Tenet said it has recognized $453 million of its $890 million in COVID-19 relief grants from the federal government through the third quarter year-to-date.

Through October, Tenet said it had received about $1.5 billion in accelerated Medicare payments, money the company will need to repay in stages beginning one year from when it was received.

Tenet’s hospitals had seen significant volume over the summer, with slight declines in some areas as COVID cases resurged in some areas. Outpatient visits were 86% of their prior-year levels in July, but down to 83% in September. Emergency department visits, which have been the slowest to return for hospitals, were 80% recovered in July, but down to 74% in September.

Surgical cases across Tenet’s United Surgical Partners International were back to 96% of their prior-year levels in September.

Like HCA, Tenet’s net revenue per adjusted admission was up significantly in the third quarter to 17% on a same-hospital basis. That’s compared with HCA’s 15%.

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