Tenet Healthcare Corporation is an investor-owned health care services company whose subsidiaries and affiliates principally operate general hospitals and related ancillary health care businesses. All of Tenet’s operations are conducted through its subsidiaries. (Unless the context otherwise requires, Tenet and its subsidiaries are referred to herein as “Tenet,” the “Company,” “we” or “us.”) At December 31, 2009, our subsidiaries operated 50 general hospitals (including one hospital not yet divested at that date that is classified in discontinued operations in our Consolidated Financial Statements) and a critical access hospital, with a combined total of 13,601 licensed beds, serving urban and rural communities in 12 states. Of those general hospitals, 45 were owned by our subsidiaries and five were owned by third parties and leased by our subsidiaries.
At December 31, 2009, our subsidiaries also operated various related health care facilities, including a long-term acute care hospital, outpatient surgery centers, diagnostic imaging centers, occupational and rural health care clinics, and a number of medical office buildings (all of which are located on, or nearby, one of our general hospital campuses). In addition, our subsidiaries operated physician practices and captive insurance companies and owned an interest in a health maintenance organization, all of which comprise a minor portion of our business.
Our hospitals and related health care facilities are committed to providing high quality care to patients in the communities we serve. To accomplish this mission in the complex and competitive health care industry, our operating strategies are to (1) identify best practices in evidence-based medicine and implement those best practices in all of our hospitals, (2) maintain high standards of ethics and compliance, (3) improve operating efficiencies and control operating costs while maintaining or improving the quality of care provided, (4) improve patient, physician and employee satisfaction, (5) improve recruitment and retention of physicians, as well as nurses and other employees, (6) increase collections of accounts receivable and increase cash flow to fund improvements at our hospitals, and (7) build or acquire new, or divest existing, facilities as market conditions, operational goals and other considerations warrant. We adjust these strategies as necessary in response to changes in the economic and regulatory climates in which we operate and the success or failure of our various efforts.
Our continuing operations are structured as follows:
• Our California region includes all of our hospitals in California, as well as our hospital in Nebraska;
• Our Central region includes all of our hospitals in Missouri, Tennessee and Texas;
• Our Florida region includes all of our hospitals in Florida;
• Our Southern States region includes all of our hospitals in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and
• Our two hospitals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are part of a separate market.
Each of the regions and the market described above report directly to our chief operating officer. Major decisions, including capital resource allocations, are made at the corporate level, not at the regional or hospital level.
We seek to operate our hospitals in a manner that positions them to compete effectively in an evolving health care environment. To that end, we sometimes decide to sell, consolidate or close certain facilities in order to eliminate duplicate services or excess capacity, or because of changing market conditions. Of the three general hospitals and one cancer hospital that were classified as “held for sale” at December 31, 2008, we completed the sale of USC University Hospital and USC Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital on March 31, 2009. In addition, we closed Irvine Regional Hospital and Medical Center in January 2009 before the expiration of our lease in February 2009, and we closed Community Hospital of Los Gatos and terminated our lease in April 2009. In May 2009, we announced that we would not renew our operating lease agreement for NorthShore Regional Medical Center, located in Slidell, Louisiana, which lease expires in May 2010. Accordingly, the hospital was reclassified into discontinued operations in the three months ended June 30, 2009. In January 2010, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell certain of our owned assets associated with NorthShore and transition the operation of the hospital to a new hospital operator. We anticipate that the transaction will close effective April 1, 2010, at which time we will terminate our lease of the hospital.
From time to time, we build new hospitals, make strategic acquisitions of hospitals and other health care facilities, and enter into partnerships or affiliations with related health care businesses. Our newly constructed 140-bed replacement hospital for East Cooper Regional Medical Center in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina is expected to open in April 2010. In addition, we are seeking to open a new acute care hospital in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Our application for a certificate of need to build the hospital was approved in May 2006, but that approval was appealed by the other applicants and, in December 2009, an administrative law judge ruled that South Carolina regulators must reconsider all of the certificate of need proposals again. We are appealing that decision; however, we are unable to predict the outcome or timing of this process. Once construction begins, the hospital is expected to take up to an additional two years to complete.
Our general hospitals in continuing operations generated in excess of 97% of our net operating revenues for all periods presented in our Consolidated Financial Statements. Factors that affect patient volumes and, thereby, our results of operations at our hospitals and related health care facilities include, but are not limited to: (1) the business environments, economic conditions and demographics of local communities; (2) the number of uninsured and underinsured individuals in local communities treated at our hospitals; (3) seasonal cycles of illness; (4) climate and weather conditions; (5) physician recruitment, retention and attrition; (6) advances in technology and treatments that reduce length of stay; (7) local health care competitors; (8) managed care contract negotiations or terminations; (9) any unfavorable publicity about us, which impacts our relationships with physicians and patients; and (10) the timing of elective procedures.
Each of our general hospitals offers acute care services, operating and recovery rooms, radiology services, respiratory therapy services, clinical laboratories and pharmacies; in addition, most offer intensive care, critical care and/or coronary care units, physical therapy, and orthopedic, oncology and outpatient services. A number of the hospitals also offer tertiary care services such as open-heart surgery, neonatal intensive care and neuroscience. Three of our hospitals—St. Louis University Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children—offer quaternary care in areas such as heart, liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants. Sierra Medical Center and Good Samaritan Medical Center also offer gamma-knife brain surgery; and St. Louis University Hospital offers cyberknife surgery for tumors and lesions in the brain, lung, neck and spine that may have been previously considered inoperable or inaccessible by radiation therapy. In addition, our hospitals will continue their efforts to deliver and develop those outpatient services that can be provided on a quality, cost-effective basis and that we believe will meet the needs of the communities served by the facilities.
With the exception of our 25-bed Sylvan Grove Hospital located in Georgia, which is designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) as a critical access hospital and which has not sought to be accredited, each of our facilities that is eligible for accreditation is accredited by the Joint Commission (formerly, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations), the American Osteopathic Association (in the case of one hospital) or another appropriate accreditation agency. With such accreditation, our hospitals are deemed to meet the Medicare Conditions of Participation and are, therefore, eligible to participate in government-sponsored provider programs, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The critical access hospital that is not accredited also participates in the Medicare and Medicaid programs by otherwise meeting the Medicare Conditions of Participation.
Description of Real Property. The locations of our hospitals and the number of licensed beds at each hospital at December 31, 2009 are set forth in the table beginning on page 3. At December 31, 2009, our subsidiaries also owned or leased and operated 66 medical office buildings, most of which are adjacent to our general hospitals. We are currently seeking to sell up to 30 of these medical office buildings, totaling approximately 2.25 million square feet of rental space.
Our corporate headquarters are located in Dallas, Texas. We have other corporate administrative offices in Anaheim, California; Coral Springs, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of our subsidiaries leases our corporate headquarters space under an operating lease agreement that expires in December 2019. Other subsidiaries lease the space for our offices in Anaheim, Coral Springs and Philadelphia under operating lease agreements. We believe that all of our properties, including the administrative and medical office buildings described above, are suitable for their intended purposes.
Obligations Relating to Real Property. As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately $5 million of outstanding loans secured by property and equipment, and we had approximately $2 million of capital lease obligations. In addition, from time to time, we lease real property to third-party developers for the construction of medical office buildings. Under our current practice, the financing necessary to construct the medical office buildings encumbers only the leasehold and not our fee interest in the real estate. In years past, however, we have at times subordinated our fee interest and allowed our property to be pledged as collateral for third-party loans. We have no contractual obligation to make payments on these third-party loans, but our property could be subject to loss in the case of default by the lessee.
Regulations Affecting Real Property. We are subject to a number of laws and regulations affecting our use of, and purchase and sale of, real property. Among these are California’s seismic standards, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and various environmental laws and regulations.
The State of California has established standards intended to ensure that all hospitals in the state withstand earthquakes and other seismic activity without collapsing or posing the threat of significant loss of life. In general, we are required to meet these standards by December 31, 2012, subject to a two-year extension for hospital projects that are underway in advance of that date. In November 2007, the California Building Standards Commission adopted regulations permitting the use of a new computerized evaluation tool for determining how at risk hospital buildings are of collapse in an earthquake, and the use of this new tool has resulted in fewer hospitals requiring retrofitting by the 2012 deadline. We currently estimate spending a total of approximately $80 million to comply with the requirements under California’s seismic regulations, of which approximately $24 million was spent prior to January 1, 2010. Our current estimated seismic costs are considerably lower than certain previous estimates because a number of our hospitals have been evaluated as having reduced risk using the new evaluation tool. There may be further reductions to our estimated seismic costs as the State of California has recently enacted new regulations relating to the seismic evaluation tool and the new state building code; we are currently evaluating these new regulations to determine what impact they will have on our cost estimate. Our total estimated seismic expenditure amount has not been adjusted for future inflation. In addition to safety standards, over time, hospitals must also meet performance standards meant to ensure that they are generally capable of providing medical services to the public after an earthquake or other disaster. Ultimately, all general acute care hospitals in California must meet seismic performance standards by 2030 to remain open. To date, we have conducted engineering studies and developed compliance plans for all of our California facilities. At this time, all of our general acute care hospitals in California are in compliance with all current seismic requirements.
The Americans with Disabilities Act generally requires that public accommodations, including hospitals and other health care facilities, be made accessible to disabled persons. Certain of our facilities are subject to a negotiated consent decree involving disability access as a result of a class action lawsuit. In accordance with the terms of the consent decree, our facilities have agreed to implement disability access improvements, but have not admitted that they have engaged in any wrongful action or inaction. To date, we have spent approximately $19 million on corrective work at our facilities, and we expect to spend a total of approximately $111 million on such improvements over the next six years.
Our properties are also subject to various federal, state and local environmental laws, rules and regulations, including with respect to asbestos abatement and the treatment of underground storage tanks, among other matters. We believe it is unlikely that the cost of complying with such laws, rules and regulations will have a material effect on our future capital expenditures, results of operations or competitive position.
MEDICAL STAFF AND EMPLOYEES
General. Our hospitals are staffed by licensed physicians who have been admitted to the medical staffs of individual hospitals. Under state laws and other licensing standards, hospital medical staffs are generally self-governing organizations subject to ultimate oversight by the hospital’s local governing board. Members of the medical staffs of our hospitals also often serve on the medical staffs of hospitals not owned by us. Members of our medical staffs are free to terminate their affiliation with our hospitals or admit their patients to competing hospitals at any time. Although we operate some physician practices and, where permitted by law, employ some physicians, the overwhelming majority of the physicians who practice at our hospitals are not our employees. However, nurses, therapists, lab technicians, facility maintenance workers and the administrative staffs of hospitals normally are our employees. We are subject to federal minimum wage and hour laws and various state labor laws, and maintain a number of different employee benefit plans.
Our operations depend on the efforts, abilities and experience of the physicians on the medical staffs of our hospitals, most of whom have no contractual relationship with us. It is essential to our ongoing business that we attract and retain an appropriate number of quality physicians in all specialties on our medical staffs. Although we had a net overall gain in physicians added to our medical staffs in each of the last three years, in some of our markets, physician recruitment and retention are still affected by a shortage of physicians in certain sought-after specialties and the difficulties that physicians experience in obtaining affordable malpractice insurance or finding insurers willing to provide such insurance. Other issues facing physicians, such as proposed decreases in Medicare payments, are forcing them to consider alternatives, including relocating their practices or retiring sooner than expected.
We continue to take steps to successfully attract and retain key employees, qualified physicians and other health care professionals. One of our initiatives is our Physician Relationship Program, which is centered on understanding the needs of physicians who admit patients both to our hospitals and to our competitors’ hospitals and responding to those needs with changes and improvements in our hospitals and operations. In general, the loss of some or all of our key employees or the inability to attract or retain sufficient numbers of qualified physicians and other health care professionals could have a material adverse effect on patient volumes and, thereby, our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.