Sutter Health posted a $49 million operating loss for the first quarter of the year, which was a major improvement on the $236 million it posted the same quarter in 2020.
The Northern California-based hospital system’s total operating revenues, though, did increase $255 million to $3.4 billion for the quarter compared to the same period last year thanks to a major recovery from the pandemic.
Overall, Sutter’s earnings before interest, expense, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the first quarter increased by 13% to $169 million compared to the same period the year before.
Sutter was buoyed in the quarter by an increase in investment gains compared to the first quarter of 2020.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in one of the worst equity market events in financial history during the first quarter of 2020,” the system’s earnings report said. “Investment income for the three months ended March 31, 2021, was $150 [million] compared to investment loss of $29 [million] for the same period in 2020.”
Patient service revenues also increased to $2.8 billion for the quarter compared to $2.7 billion for 2020.
The latest operating loss comes after Sutter Health posted a $321 million operating loss for 2020. The decline in revenue caused the system to trigger a major review of its operations and finances that could include seeing fewer patients.
The 24-hospital system is also working out how to pay a $575 million settlement it reached with the state to settle allegations of price fixing. Sutter tried but failed last summer to delay court proceedings linked to the settlement because of the financial issues that arose due to the pandemic.
The court did grant preliminary approval of the settlement March 9, and several more hearings are on the horizon, according to Sutter’s earnings report.