by Monte Sahlin
By Adventist Today News Team, November 24, 2013
About eight billion dollars in expansions are currently underway or planned for the next few years among the five health care organizations affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States. Some of the funds in this total may actually be used to refinance existing debt in new, consolidated borrowing.
Adventist Healthcare has applied for clearance from the State of Maryland to build a new campus for Washington Adventist Hospital in White Oak. Adventist Health System plans to issue as much as $4.4 billion worth of debt over the next three years to finance construction projects at 36 hospitals in five states, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Loma Linda University Medical Center has a $1.6 billion capital plan as reported by the Business Wire.
Adventist Today has also identified more than a billion dollars of projects previously announced by Adventist Health System entities, $140 million in projects announced by Kettering Health Network in Dayton (Ohio), and $314 million in projects announced by Adventist Health on the west coast. All together Adventist Today has identified more than 130 projects currently under construction or planned to begin in the next five to eight years.
None of these arrangements involve funding from church donations or denominational appropriations. Most are or will be funded by the issuance of bonds on the open market, some of which are backed by government funding.
An example of the kind of projects underway is Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Interstate 675, "the Dayton area's newest hospital," as described by the Journal-News local paper. It was opened last year by Kettering Health Network, the Adventist entity that operates eight hospitals in this Midwest metropolitan area, to meet the growing needs of suburbs east of the city. Initially licensed for 95 beds the new hospital is already reaching 80 percent occupancy rates and has two floors that are on stand-by for quick expansion when needed.
With the aging of the Baby Boom generation and rapid development of new technology in medicine, there is a growing need across the country for both additional patient space and up-to-date facilities. Because Adventist health care organizations seek to be responsive to the needs of the communities they serve, then new construction is necessary in many places as well as new programs and renovated facilities with new equipment in other places.
"Across the country over a period of several years it amounts to a large investment," a retired health executive told Adventist Today. "It is not out of proportion with what is happening throughout the health care field. It really represents the way in which God has blessed the health ministries of the Church, as well as careful stewardship by the administrators."
Not only are church funds not involved in these projects; in fact, cash flows the other way. Adventist health care organizations make appropriations from operating surpluses to church and mission projects.