USPI reported surgical cases dropped 28.6 percent in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit just as the company was reporting accelerated growth. But its centers are beginning to reopen and USPI has seen around 40 percent of its pre-COVID-19 cases, the company reported.
Before the pandemic, USPI was ahead of its budget as a result of service line expansion in 2019 and ramping up acquired and de novo ASCs, but many centers have temporarily closed.
"We took action to furlough and flex down teams at USPI, closing over 100 facilities and reducing hours and days in the balance of facilities," said Ron Rittenmeyer, executive chairman and CEO of Tenet, USPI's parent company, during a recent earnings call transcribed by Seeking Alpha. "We maintained the minimal staff, as recommended by CMS, and some USPI locations prepared to handle any overflow from hospitals, driven by the need to serve emergencies, which fortunately did not occur."
The company reported a 75 percent decrease in surgical volumes for USPI and deployed some hospital nurse volunteers to such hard-hit states as Detroit, Arizona and New York City to assist in managing the surge of patients with COVID-19.
Tenet received $1.5 billion under the advanced payment authorization from CMS, which it will pay back between August 2020 and March 2021, the company reported during its earnings call.
Over the past few weeks, the Tenet's hospitals and surgery centers have focused on ramping elective procedures back up safely.
"We have begun to resume elective procedures consistent with area regulations and in close consultation with our physicians," Mr. Rittenmeyer said. "Our early reads are promising, and we expect it may take several months to bring up our USPI locations to pre-COVID volumes."
He also said many of Tenet's facilities were opening at 50 percent of pre-COVID surgeries in the beginning of May.
USPI President and CEO Brett Brodnax said more complex cases, including spine, total joints and general surgery are coming back more quickly than lower acuity cases.