GREAT FALLS, Mont.-The largest hospital in Montana, Benefis Healthcare, will soon become larger as plans were announced recently to build a new heart hospital. Construction is expected to start within 18 to 24 months, cost $9 million to $11 million, and last about three years. Benefis operates two campuses with a total of 490 beds. The new heart facility will be on the east campus. Benefis will partner with MedCath Corp. to design, develop and staff the new hospital.
GALLUP, N.M.-Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital received a five-notch downgrade from Fitch Ratings for $3.7 million in debt, dropping it to B- from BB+, the bond ratings agency said in a news release. The downgrade results from interim financial statements that showed operating losses of $9.6 million in the nine months ended May 31, and changes to accounting methods that resulted in a $6 million write-off of accounts receivable, according to the release. An operating loss of $3.5 million for the 118-bed hospital is expected for the still-pending 2004 financials. This loss is contrary to previous indications from the hospital that showed an expected gain of $1 million, Fitch said. Moreover, Fitch noted in the release that it is concerned about the reliability of Rehoboth's financial statements and the turnover in its finance department. A violation of its bond covenants is likely to occur, Fitch said. Robert Tyk, a turnaround expert hired in May as the hospital's new chief financial officer and vice president of finance, did not dispute Fitch's statements and said the hospital has suffered because of previous missteps in financial management. The hospital is not in danger of closing and is not expected to miss any debt payments, Tyk said, adding a turnaround should take about 18 months.