TENET HEALTHCARE: Posts Financial Gains In Third Quarter
Santa Barbara-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. Friday posted improved third-quarter financial returns "with double-digit gains in earnings-per-share, net income and revenue." The Santa Barbara News-Press reports Tenet's "revenue climbed 14.6% to $2.56 billion, compared to $2.24 billion for the third quarter of 1997." Additionally, "[n]et income increased 20% to $148 million, compared to $118 million for the same three-month period the year before." Tenet's earnings-per-share climbed 47 cents, improving 21%, "compared to 39 cents for the previous year." The hospital chain's admissions also increased, "with 8.5% more patients for the quarter." Those "hospitals owned by Tenet for at least a year" posted a 2.4% increase in admissions during the three-month period. "These healthy results stem from our focused pursuit of a clearly defined strategy," said Jeffrey Barbakow, chair and CEO of Tenet.
"During the quarter," the News-Press notes, Tenet "created a joint venture with Catholic Healthcare West to offer expanded network coverage for managed care payers in Northern California." Tenet also bought St. Louis University Hospital in February, "while selling five other hospitals and planning to shed a sixth." Tenet currently "owns and operates 125 acute-care hospitals, employing 106,000 people in 18 states" (3/28).
Queen Of Angels Concerns
An editorial in today's Los Angeles Times questions Tenet's proposed acquisition of Queen of Angels hospital in Hollywood. "Currently," the editorial contends, "the deal has at least one serious flaw: The QueensCare foundation, which will oversee the charitable health care funded by sale proceeds, has not clearly defined what constitutes charitable care." The Times argues that "[w]hat's critical is that charity dollars are spent to provide services like indigent inpatient care." However, Tenet's current plan for acquiring the hospital contains "slippery wording" that would allow the hospital chain "to include under 'charitable care' any bill a patient does not pay in full." Noting that state Deputy Attorney General James Schwartz is reviewing the deal, the Times states that Schwartz "should refine the definition of charitable care so that neither Tenet nor QueensCare can escape their legal obligation to help pay for it." The editorial also criticizes the deal for not setting "minimum intensive-care unit or emergency room staffing levels." However, the Times defends Tenet's right to not recognize Queen of Angels' existing labor union: "In today's intensely competitive health care environment, Tenet should be able to reserve for itself flexibility needed to respond to ever-changing market demands" (3/30).