Deborah Heart & Lung Center gets $88M government loan for expansion project

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved an $88.2 million loan to the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, funding the Burlington County specialty hospital said will provide the “final piece” of capital needed for its planned $100 million expansion project.

The USDA loan is funded through the federal agency’s Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. Deborah, in Browns Mills, will used the funds to convert its double-occupancy inpatient rooms to private suites, construct a new inpatient tower with individual patient rooms, and for other initiatives. The project also includes upgrades to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs and a new pharmacy cleanroom.

“We had this project on the drawing board before the pandemic and even with the enormous difficulties and stresses placed on health care during the past year, our team forged ahead with our planning for the future,” said Joseph Chirichella, the CEO of Deborah. 

The medical center, which specializes in heart, lung and vascular care, expects to begin construction on the expansion project within the next few months. Construction is tentatively scheduled to be completed in late 2022 to coincide with Deborah’s 100th anniversary. 

The three-floor addition at the hospital will be constructed on top of existing hospital space, and will include two floors with 18 private, critical-care rooms on each floor and a third floor dedicated to mechanical space. This project will give the hospital a total of 95 beds. 

According to the USDA, nearly 800,000 rural residents fall within Deborah’s service area.

“Although our Community Facilities Program can help provide financial support to many different essential community projects, those projects that improve the health and safety of our residents would certainly be among the most important,” said Brandon Pfeilmeier, acting state director of New Jersey for the USDA, in a statement. “Having access to high quality medical service is critical to the future of our rural New Jersey communities.“ 

The Deborah Hospital Foundation’s ongoing fundraising efforts for the project have brought in about $16 million. That figure includes a $5 million donation, the largest single amount given by an individual donor to the medical center, from Gregory Olsen. Olsen sits on Deborah Hospital Foundation’s board and is CEO of Princeton-based GHO Ventures. In 2005, he became the third private citizen to travel to the International Space Station after securing medical clearances from Deborah pulmonologist Dr. David Murphy.

*Article courtesy of Philadelphia Business Journal

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