Sutter Health ends 2022 with $249M loss, but draws solace from $278M operating income

Sacramento, California-based Sutter Health crossed the finish line strong but ultimately wrapped up 2022 with a $249 million net loss, a substantial decline from the $1.1 billion profit of 2021.

A $628 million dip in investment income, a $578 million decrease in net unrealized gains and losses on investments and the $208 million disaffiliation of Samuel Merritt University all contributed to the nonprofit’s year-over-year decline.

Still, the tally is a $289 million improvement over the $538 million net loss the system had reported at the year’s nine-month mark.

The loss was also blunted by a 12-month operating income of $278 million—a bump over the $199 million operating income of 2021 and a feather in Sutter’s cap at a time when several other major nonprofit systems are reporting hundreds of millions in operating losses.

“Our operating financial performance has put Sutter in a position to reinvest more within the system, which can help support even higher quality, equitable healthcare for patients throughout California,” CEO and President Warner Thomas said in a press release.

Sutter’s total operating revenues rose 3.9% year over year to $14.8 billion in 2022. This was just ahead of the 3.3% increase to $14.5 billion in total operating expenses. The system wrote in a release that “like other healthcare organizations around the country,” it was not immune from inflationary pressures on expenses like wages and benefits or supplies.

However, the strong results of its 2021 financial recovery initiative and patient volumes “returning to near-2019 levels by year’s end” give Sutter “a stable base to invest in the future," the system said.

Capital investments in 2022 totaled $463 million, up from 2021’s $378 million, and upcoming funds will be focused on expanding patient access as well as workforce retention and recruitment, the system said.

“We are encouraged by the system’s operational performance that allows us to reinvest and implement our plan for addressing challenges such as inflationary headwinds and increased costs,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Dean said in a statement.

The nonprofit’s release highlighted a $27 million increase in community benefits investments from 2021’s $872 million to 2022’s $899 million.

Sutter employs roughly 51,000 people across 23 hospitals, 33 ambulatory surgery centers and other care locations. It logged $14.2 billion in operating revenue and a net income of more than $1.14 billion during 2021.

Late November also saw Thomas step in as the nonprofit’s president and CEO. Thomas had held the top roles at Ochsner Health for the past decade and will be taking the reins from James Conforti, who had been serving in an interim capacity since January.