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Major Credit Rating Agencies Affirm “A” Rating

Major Credit Rating Agencies Affirm “A” Rating

Two major credit rating agencies have affirmed their “A” rating for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), with an upgrade of the credit outlook from both services.

FitchRatings (Fitch) has affirmed its “A” rating, and has upgraded its credit outlook to “positive” for D-HH. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s has affirmed its “A” rating andimproved its outlook for D-HH from “negative” to “stable”.

The ratings were released last week. Fitch noted D-HH’s resilience in the wake of weaker-than-expected financial results in Fiscal Year 2016 and the health system’s “marked improvement” over the last year. According to Fitch, “[t]he A rating and Positive Outlook reflect Fitch’s expectation that D-HH will continue to improve upon the results of its Performance Improvement Plan [and] … continue to demonstrate strong cost management.”

S&P noted D-HH’s “dramatically” improved financial performance over the last year, adding that “[t]he ‘A’ rating reflects D-HH’s robust enterprise profile serving as both the sole academic medical center and major safety net provider of care in New Hampshire, along with its expansive community physician presence strategically located across the state of New Hampshire and Southern Vermont.”

News releases from both Fitch and S&P are are attached.

“Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health is very pleased to have received a strong affirmation of our ‘A’ rating from both Fitch and S&P Global Ratings,” said D-HH CEO and President Dr. Joanne Conroy. “We believe it is an acknowledgement of the diligent and focused efforts that the organization undertook over the past 18 months, ensuring our stability as well as remaining steadfast in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health’s commitment to always provide high-quality patient care in modern facilities throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.”

D-HH anticipates that it will issue up to $700 million in bonds to refinance the majority of its system-wide debt and acquire new money for capital projects.  The issuance will allow D-HH to lock in historically low long-term interest rates, among other benefits.  The bonds will be issued across three different bond market segments: the tax-exempt bond market, the municipal taxable market and the corporate taxable market.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health is the parent organization of a regionally distributed academic health system serving patients in New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as elsewhere in New England.  D-HH provides acute, tertiary and quaternary care hospital services, primary care, and multi-specialty ambulatory clinical services to a total population of approximately 1.9 million in its service area. The System is anchored by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, an academic medical center located in Lebanon, New Hampshire, that is comprised of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, a 396-bed teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center for adult and pediatric patients, and the Lebanon division of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic, a large multi-specialty physician group practice with sites throughout New Hampshire and southern Vermont.  The system also includes Cheshire Medical Center, New London Hospital, and Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in New Hampshire, Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Vermont, and the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire.

About Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) is a nonprofit academic health system that serves a population of 1.9 million in New England. D-H provides access to more than 1,000 primary care doctors and specialists in almost every area of medicine, delivering care in Lebanon, NH at its flagship, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 45 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation; the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock; affiliate hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and through the Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and at 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-H system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT. In 2016, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center was named one of "100 Great Hospitals in America" by Becker's Hospital Review.