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Hospital debt relief good for all

August 2, 2019 06:30 pm

It’s no surprise that a small but widely used hospital like Columbia Memorial Health would accrue large debt given all the expansions, additions, acquisitions and upgrades over the years.

What is surprising is the amount of funding from the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program headed to Columbia Memorial Health: $17.4 million out of a total of $187 million, or 9.3%, from 25 awards overall to improve patient care or reduce debt. The CMH award was good for third-highest among hospitals in the state.

“This will cover debt that the hospital has incurred over the last several years,” hospital spokesman Bill Van Slyke said Thursday. “It is specially for the use of debt relief.”

The $17.4 million will essentially pay off all of the hospital’s long-term debt for capital improvement projects that have been made over the years.

“CMH has about $17 million in long-term debt,” Columbia Memorial Health President and CEO Jay P. Cahalan said Thursday. “This debt is sort of like a house mortgage. Much of it is for the buildings we owe money on, like the Kellner Wing and purchase of the Greene Medical Arts building, just to name two examples.”

With its long-term debt essentially wiped clean, Columbia Memorial Health can stop worrying and turn its attention to forward-looking projects as health care evolves for years to come. In the long run, this will be good for the local health care industry, the economy, the hospital and its services and the people of the Twin Counties.