Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell yesterday proposed the construction of a new hospital and health care facilities that would use $227 million of state general obligation bonds and other funding sources.
“This is a $352 million investment in a new hospital that will have increased classroom and lab space for more medical and dental students and will help offset anticipated shortages in these professions,” Rell said in a press release. “The return on our investment will include a nationally recognized cancer center and specialized institutes and advanced training open to all health care professionals in the state.”
Rell said the project would establish the UConn Health Network and be built in collaboration with the state, the University of Connecticut, Hartford Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and other health care providers.
The centerpiece of the project would be a $236 million, 230-bed tower at the John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington. The project would increase class sizes at the schools of medicine and dental medicine at the hospital.
Also included are $96 million of renovations of an academic and research facility and $20 million to finance several specialized medical centers and institutes, including a cancer center. The center would seek designation by the National Institutes of Health as a Comprehensive Cancer Center and apply for federal research funding.
The project has a few hurdles before shovels can hit the ground. The plan calls for $100 million of federal funding that Rell’s office said Sen. Chris Dodd had put into the federal health care reform package, but that legislation has an uncertain future. The governor also is asking the General Assembly to cancel GO bond authorizations that have been approved but not issued rather than add a $227 million authorization to existing ones.
“We’ve just about maxed out our bonding limit,” said Rell spokeswoman Donna Tommelleo. “You don’t want to blow your credit rating.”
In October, Moody’s Investors Service lowered the state’s general obligation rating to negative from stable while affirming its Aa3 rating. Fitch Ratings followed suit the next month, revising its outlook on Connecticut’s AA-rated general obligation debt to negative from stable. Standard & Poor’s rates the state’s credit AA with stable outlook.
In addition to bonds and federal funding, the UConn Health Network would also use for design costs $25 million of funds already approved for the University of Connecticut.