Ascension latest health system to report hits from COVID-19 as it posts $1B loss last year

Ascension reported revenue of $25.26 billion, which was down less than 1% from the previous year's revenue of $25.32 billion. (Ascension)

Catholic healthcare giant Ascension posted a $1 billion net loss last year, becoming the latest in a string of major health systems to report major financial hits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The loss compares to earnings of about $1.2 billion for the prior year ending June 30, 2019, the St. Louis-based nonprofit health system reported in a recently released financial statement.

It was largely attributable to drops in operations, The heath system reported a $639 million operating loss for the year ended June 30, 2020 compared to $130 million operating gain it reported the year prior.

Ascension reported revenue of $25.26 billion, which was down less than 1% from the previous year's revenue of $25.32 billion.

RELATED: Ascension reports $1B income last quarter

The health system reported it received Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding of approximately $1.1 billion in funding. The System also received approximately $2 billion of advanced payments with repayment to occur based upon the terms and conditions of the program, which are included in current liabilities as of June 30, 2020. 

Overall, the health system reported its total discharges dropped to 6% from 813,165 to 763,831. It's total patient days dropped by 4.5%. Still, the health system reported it had 284 days cash on hand, up from 271 days cash on hand in 2019.

"Overall volume decreases experienced during the year ended June 30, 2020 are due to the previously mentioned cancelled elective surgeries and procedures starting mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak," officials wrote in their year-end report. "Volumes were trending favorably prior to the outbreak, as equivalent discharges increased 1.4% through the eight months ended February 29, 2020, as compared to the same period in the prior year."

While elective procedures and surgeries resumed in most markets during the fourth quarter of the year ending June 30, officials said, they did not fully recover to pre-COVID-19 volumes.

The health system also reported outpatient volumes dipped 6.8% in the year ending June 30, compared to the prior year. The visits began to drop in mid-March due to COVID-19 after previously being up about 4.2% through the end of February.