Maine Medical Center plans bonds for expansion project

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Maine Medical Center received state regulatory approval to advance a $512 million expansion project in Portland that will be funded partly through bonding.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services last week granted the hospital a Certificate of Need, a state requirement for all healthcare services expansion projects to demonstrate their necessity. MMD, which is affiliated with the MaineHealth system, says the project is needed to combat aging infrastructure and evolving standards of medical care where single patient rooms are now the standard. The hospital’s main campus has some buildings that were built in the 1800s and more than half of patient rooms are more than 40 years old, according to the medical center.

“There has never been a doubt about the clinical need for this project,” MMC president and CEO Richard Petersen said in a statement. “It has been clear to all that we need to expand and modernize to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

MMC plans to fund around half of the project through borrowing and the rest from existing and fundraising. MaineHealth spokesman Jon Porter said two tranches of bonds are planned, but the timing of the issuance is not known yet.

S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook on debt issued for MaineHealth by the Maine Health & Higher Education Facilities Authority to stable from negative last year citing financial results that exceeded expectations in 2014 and 2015. The authority is rated A-plus by S&P, A1 by Moody's Investors Service and AA by by Fitch Ratings.

MMC’s expansion plans include adding 128 single patient rooms and 19 modern procedure rooms to its main campus. Hospital officials also want to replace the existing employee parking garage and create a new main entrance. The hospital is planning a March 2018 groundbreaking with construction expected to take around four years to complete.

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