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St. Charles gears up for $80 million in projects


St. Charles Health System is set this spring to float about $80 million worth of tax-exempt bonds — the second-most in its history — for a wide range of projects by the region’s largest employer, including replacement of Prineville’s Pioneer Memorial Hospital and major renovations at its Bend and Madras hspitals.

The little-known Hospital Facility Authority of Deschutes County will hold its required public hearing Feb. 25 at 7:30 a.m. at the St. Charles board room to take testimony on the bond issuance plan, according to a legal notice published Tuesday, the next step in the process.

Karen Shepard, the health system’s chief financial officer and executive vice president, said the tax-exempt, fixed-rate private placement bonds will be issued in late March or early April.

The health system, which has grown to encompass 3,400 employees, is evaluating proposals from six banks who wish to be the lender, Shepard said.

She noted that current rates for such bonds are significantly lower than the traditional bond markets. Entering the bond market this year has been in the organization’s plan since 2012.

The health system’s largest previous bond issue was for $103 million in 2008, used to restructure debt taken on in 2005, the organization said.

The largest bond-funded project will be the $30 million new St. Charles Prineville, for which site work is already under way. The replacement for Pioneer Memorial Hospital is expected to open next year, Shepard said.

At St. Charles Madras, planning has begun for $12 million to $15 million in emergency department, operating room and imaging upgrades.

At St. Charles Bend, the health system also plans major remodeling work on the third, fourth and fifth floors over the next two years, costing an estimated $22 million to $25 million.

The rest of the bond money will be used for various equipment purchases and remodeling projects at the various locations around Bend, Redmond and Sisters.

“This debt also will position St. Charles positively to refinance higher interest rate bonds in 2019,” the hospital official said.

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