CHICAGO — Moody's Investors Service has shifted its outlook to positive from stable on Illinois-based Blessing Hospital's A3 rating in recognition of strong growth on its investments.

The action last Thursday affects $33 million of debt.

The hospital has seen "very good growth" in its investments "resulting in a strong balance sheet, and consistent and solid operating margins," Moody's wrote.

The outlook reflects analysts' view that Blessing's strong market position and strategies will allow cash flow margins to remain consistent with recent levels, its patient tower project will be completed on time and on budget, and unrestricted investments will remain strong.

The rating level reflects Blessing's solid operating margins over the last six fiscal years, dominant market share, strong balance sheet, favorable commercial contracts and manageable leverage. Challenges include relatively high dependency on governmental payers as well as a large physician group and high capital spending to complete a patient tower.

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