Not-for-profit standalone children’s hospitals in the U.S. are beginning to see a shift in their operating and financial performance to a stable trend after several years of growth, Standard & Poor’s said last week in a report.

The group has continued to perform well and to maintain good credit quality compared with rated standalone acute care hospitals, based on Standard & Poor’s analysis of their 2008 median ratios.

“While children’s hospitals’ 2008 medians haven’t yet exhibited the weakened financials that are beginning to be evident in many stand-alone hospitals, their performance trends are weaker than the growth patterns of the past several years,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Suzie Desai. Not-for-profit children’s hospitals are a group of providers that are independent of larger acute-care facilities or systems.

Standard & Poor’s rates 19 standalone children’s hospitals, up from 18 in their last report in 2006. While the sample size is small, the children’s hospitals’ rating trends and median ratios provide some insight into the financial health of the group relative to the larger universe of rated stand-alone hospitals. The 2008 median ratios are based on the hospitals’ fiscal 2007 audited results.

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