U.S. financing aids Lakes Region projects

LRGHealthcare, the parent company of Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia and Franklin Regional Hospital, will be getting a $136.4 million federal loan for expansion and renovation projects.

The mortgage loan was made possible through a mortgage insurance program under the Federal Housing Administration.

By insuring the mortgage loan, FHA is enabling the hospital to obtain lower cost financing, saving an estimated $18.8 million in interest expense over the life of the loan.

The insured loan also covers funds to pay for major equipment needed to operate the facility.

The enhancements will provide a multimillion-dollar boost to the region’s economy in both the near and long terms, according to those involved in the process.

LRGHealthcare will now be able to proceed with three projects — a 97,000-square-foot addition to Lakes Region General Hospital, a 3,200-square-foot internal expansion and 2,200-square-foot renovation of emergency services at Franklin Regional Hospital, and the construction of a satellite facility to replace the Belknap Family Health facility in Meredith.

The approval also means LRGHealthcare can refinance $57.7 million of existing debt.

“FHA is helping to build state-of-the-art health care facilities all across the country,” FHA Commissioner David Stevens said in a prepared statement. “By lowering the cost of credit, FHA will allow LRGHealthcare to use more of its resources to provide quality medical care to the surrounding communities.”

Since 2003, HUD has issued commitments to 21 hospitals across the nation, but LRGHealthcare is believed to be the first New Hampshire recipient.

HUD estimated that the LRGHealthcare projects would support 536 full-time jobs and provide an economic stimulus of $132.3 million. Once completed, it is estimated that the projects would provide an annual economic benefit of approximately $73.4 million and support 451 jobs.

“Three years ago, taking into account the current and future health-care needs of our community, we launched a master facilities planning process,” said LRGHealthcare’s president and chief executive, Tom Clairmont. “Through that process, all of these projects were identified as necessary. We were hoping to be able to first begin work on the LRGH addition, but thanks to the favorable rates secured through the HUD program, we are now able to move forward with all three of these needed projects. In addition, we can refinance existing debt at a favorable rate, which will provide long-term savings and stability to our community.”

Clairmont said the financing “enables us to take a huge step forward in furthering our ability to meet our community’s current and future health-care needs. With financing in place for these projects, we will be able to work with our community to fund other facility and service enhancements, includ-ing the future upgrade of existing LRGHealthcare facilities to make them comparable to the standard of the new addition.”