Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is pushing forward with plans to construct a $150 million patient tower.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health is moving forward on plans to build the $150 million patient tower at the Lebanon hospital, as public filings show the health care system has close to $500 million in cash on hand.

Hospital officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday. According to a report, Chief Financial Officer Daniel Jantzen prepared for bondholders and filed with the Municipal Securities and Regulations Board. Construction on the new tower is set to start in July.

“Funding for this inpatient expansion had been secured prior to the onset of the pandemic, and although the timeline may shift slightly as the impacts of COVID are fully realized, the project will proceed as planned,” Jantzen wrote.

The 212,000-square-foot project is expected to take up to 16 months to complete. It will have space for 64 beds, with space to add another 64 if needed, according to the planning documents filed with the city of Lebanon. The project is slated for the area near the north entrance to the hospital.

Jantzen wrote in the report that the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center had to refer up to 300 patients to other hospitals every month because of a lack of bed space. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital ran at about 90 percent capacity with 396 beds, according to documents filed with the city.

Dr. Joanne Conroy, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health’s president and CEO, has called the project necessary for the future of the hospital.

The hospital has taken a financial hit during the COVID-19 crisis as it was forced to cancel nearly all non-emergency surgeries, procedures and visits. Jantzen’s report to bondholders covers the finances up to the end of March, and indicates the hospital lost close to $35 million in March. The full impact of the pandemic on Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health’s finances is not yet clear.

Since the end of March, however, the hospital has put together close to $493 million in ready cash, according to the filing. In April, the hospital took in $239 million in advance payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, another $88.6 million from the CARES Act stimulus, an estimated $40 million in payroll tax deferrals, and it secured a $125 million, three-year loan.

Friday, October 30, 2020