Community Health says operating income climbed 74% in 2021

After a rough first year of the pandemic in 2020, Community Health Network is bouncing back.

The Indianapolis-based hospital network said income from operations last year climbed 74% as patients scheduled services they had delayed during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Admissions, patient days, emergency room visits, outpatient surgeries and outpatient visits with physicians all climbed last year. The only decreases were for inpatient surgeries and virtual appointments.

The system’s operating margin for the full year was $140.2 million, or 4.7%, compared to $80.5 million, or 3% the previous year.

“The improvement in the operating margin was driven by increased volumes related to normal annual demand combined with services that had been delayed in the prior year related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the network said in its April 1 filing.

Community Health owns seven hospitals in central Indiana, including Community Hospital North, its largest, in the Castleton area, which has 461 beds.

The system’s seven hospitals had a combined average occupancy rate of 66.7%. The highest was Community Hospital East in Indianapolis, at 77.5%; the lowest was Community Howard Regional Health in Kokomo, at 48.2%.

Operating revenue last year was $3.003 billion, up 12%, as patient visits climbed almost across the board. Admissions increased 8.5%, patient days increased 18.3%, emergency room visits increased 13.2%, outpatient surgeries increased 18.7%, and outpatient visits increased 26.4%.

Births increased 2.8%. Inpatient surgeries fell 0.9%, and virtual appointments fell 37.6%.

But operating expenses climbed too, up 10%, driven by increase in salaries and wages. Overtime wages climbed 52% and temporary staff wages climbed 193%.

Community Health operates more than 200 points of care, including clinics, freestanding surgery centers, imaging centers, urgent and immediate care centers.

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