A Well Community

Access to quality health care is usually the foremost factor in assessing the overall health and well-being in a community. Approximately one million of us a day are admitted for treatment in community not-for-profit hospitals. In large urban areas, access is not usually an issue (although sometimes quality might be), but in smaller towns and more rural locations access may be limited in terms of facilities and the level of care that can be provided. Municipal bonds fund new facilities and renovations or expansions providing major health care upgrades to a community.

Healthy Community Health Care Metrics

Mount Nittany Medical Center (Moody’s: NR; Standard & Poor’s: A) is a rural provider that accessed the bond market to improve its physical space and care offerings. Located in State College, Pennsylvania—home of Penn State University—the medical center (not affiliated with the university) predominantly serves Centre County. This county has an overall poverty rate of 20%, and 38% of the population is a female head of household with children.

Key community metrics for the facility, as reported in the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment, were behavioral health/substance abuse (alcohol, opioid), weight management, and chronic disease/heart disease. It is also a sole community provider (there are no other medical facilities for 35 miles), and the hospital’s service area covers several designated Medically Underserved Areas.

Providing basic hospital services is important, but caring for a community takes a broader perspective of a hospital’s role in health care accessibility. Acknowledging its role as the key health care provider for this region, the hospital determined it essential to expand the Children’s Advocacy Center and build a new Cardiovascular Pavilion. Prior to this expansion, the nearest children’s advocacy center was 70 miles away, and there was no advanced cardio center in the region at all.

As a nonprofit institution, the hospital could turn to the municipal bond market. Through a series of taxable and tax-exempt bond issues from 2009 to 2018, the hospital funded the expansion of the Center and built the Pavilion. Since the new Advocacy Center opened in 2013 it has addressed more than 1,500 cases. The new 26,000 square foot Cardiovascular Pavilion will open later this year.