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Ascension lost more than $670 million from patient care in the first three months of this year, totaling a negative 10% operating margin, as the Catholic hospital conglomerate faced higher labor costs tied to January’s Omicron surge.

Ascension hired more travel nurses, paid more overtime, and increased base wages for employees, who were inundated with Covid-19 patients, according to financial documents Ascension filed Friday evening. The hospital system’s salaries and wages ultimately rose 15% in the first quarter of this year, while revenue ticked up 2%.


Labor costs have become the most highly watched metric in the hospital industry. Hospitals have stated that Omicron stretched them thin, which forced them to rely on more expensive staffing agencies and hike pay to prevent employees from going elsewhere.

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