Drop in state bonds will not hurt ECRMC

April 26, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Wrier

A 2-point drop in the state's bond rating will not affect $39.3 million in revenue bonds sold by El Centro Regional Medical Center.

The rating was lowered by Standard & Poor's Rating Service, a public bond-rating company.

"The downgrade will not affect our bond sale," said Terri Darr, El Centro Regional controller, speaking on behalf of the hospital's chief financial officer, Kathleen Farmer. "We sold before this."

The state's credit rating remains on the S&P's so-called CreditWatch with negative implications, according to an S&P Credit Wire story that ran Wednesday.

"The downgrade reflects the mounting and uncertain cost to the state of the current electrical power crisis, as well as its likely long-term detrimental effect on the state's economy," the wire story states.


Despite the downgrade, S&P said the rating was not further decreased because of "the state's still-positive fund balance, its deep and diverse economy and the possibility that a proposed revenue bond will reimburse the general fund for power purchases already made — although this revenue bond will not eliminate the gap between retail rates and purchased power."

The decreased rating affects the state's credit rating, including the CalMortgage, the California Health Facilities Construction Loan Insurance Fund.

The El Centro hospital project to be financed includes the construction and equipping of a new hospital building adjacent to the existing facility. The new building will be two stories and about 68,000 square feet. It will house a 20-bed emergency room, a 12-bed intensive care unit, a 48-bed medical/surgical unit, five surgery suites, two procedure rooms for in-patients and out- patients and an ambulatory surgery center.

Bond funds will be used to construct a new central plant to service the new building and to renovate the obstetrical wing of the existing hospital facility.

Renovation of the existing facility with bond proceeds will include the lobby and other common waiting room areas, an isolation room, two labor/delivery/recovery rooms and other delivery room areas.

These projects will cost about $34.1 million.

Of the remaining bond money, about $5 million will go toward the replacement of the current facility's roof and to install seismic bracing.

Another $500,000 will go toward building a helicopter pad.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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