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Construction was halted suddenly last week on the new Saint Joseph-London hospital building west of Interstate 75.

Just days after a crowd cheered at Saint Joseph-London’s topping out ceremony, construction of the new $147 million hospital has stopped.

It is not known when about 200 workers will resume construction, but officials say it will at some point.

“Given the economy and the global market situation, (Catholic Health Initiatives) has been evaluating construction projects over the past couple of days,” explained Jeff Murphy, regional director of communications for Saint Joseph Health Systems. “Because of the market, we thought we should be a little more conservative.”

Murphy said the move is not because CHI, the parent company of Saint Joseph Health Systems, is on shaky financial footing.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We have retained our double A bond rating.”

Robert Brock, chief financial officer at Saint Joseph-London, agreed.

“CHI is still a strong company and is still operating at a profit,” he said.

Brock explained the plan for financing had been to obtain a half-billion dollar general bond issued for London’s project, as well as other major projects. But that bond issue was not made before construction started.

“In anticipation of getting money for these projects, we went ahead with them and used internal cash resources,” he said. “That’s the way it’s been done in our company and that’s how not-for-profits generally work.”

See Monday's Sentinel-Echo for the rest of the story.

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