Penn's health system plans $3.9B in capital expenditures

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The new University of Pennsylvania Health System patient pavilion, shown here in an artist’s rendering, under construction at South 33rd Street and Convention Avenue is the largest of the projects the system plans to spend nearly $4 billion on over the next five years.

In the next five years, the University of Pennsylvania Health System plans $3.9 billion in capital expenditures, including $1.5 billion for the 17-story patient pavilion that is under construction on the University City campus, according to preliminary bond offering statements published this week.

One of the filings estimated that the nonprofit system will borrow $400 million in the tax-exempt municipal bond market, which is at risk of being dramatically curtailed under the GOP tax proposals making their way through Congress. An additional $200 million in bonds would be offered on a taxable basis.

In addition to the new patient pavilion, which will have 500 rooms and 47 operating rooms when it opens in 2021, replacing beds in older buildings, Penn is also building an eight-story Center for Health Care Technology. That building will house corporate functions, such as information technology and human resources, and is expected to open next year.

Other projects include continued renovations of Chester County Hospital, investments associated with the acquisition of Princeton HealthCare System (expected to be completed early next year), and the possible development of off-site practice locations, such as one in Radnor that has been delayed by struggles to win local approval.

A Standard & Poor’s analyst said the health system is financially “robust enough to absorb the extended period of capital spending and additional debt.”

“Although we do not expect UPHS to sustain profitability at the ample fiscal 2017 levels as it enters an extended period of elevated capital spending, its strong market position, broadening geographic draw, and the high intensity of its patient mix, should allow it to maintain or increase its market share,” S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Charlene Butterfield wrote.

The health system, which employs 27,050, had $802.9 million in income available to make debt payments, more than seven times the amount it needed.