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Cranes Start Moving on OHSU’s South Waterfront Buildings in January

The OHSU board approved bond financing for the Knight Cancer Research Building, the Center for Health and Healing South and Patient/Family Housing bringing its total debt to $1 billion.
October 29, 2015

The CHH-South project with an ambulatory hospital of 15 operating rooms and 48 patient rooms is expected to cost $309 million, including $9 million allocated from the annual hospital capital budget. The Knight Cancer Research facilities total $200 million.

The combined total of $509 million will be funded by $240 million from new OHSU debt, $60 million from philanthropy, $9 million from operating cash flow, and approximately $200 million funded by Oregon state bonds that formed part of the Knight Cancer Challenge. The combined projects will increase by one third OHSU’s current $1.5 billion in its net physical plant.

Chief Financial Officer Lawrence Furnstahl said the state intends to issue its bonds in two parts: $100 million next spring and $100 million in early 2017. OHSU must issue its $240 million in fixed and variable rate debt prior to the state bonds in a match structure required under the Oregon Constitution.

The buildings are “not designed for how we deliver care today,” said Brian Newman of OHSU’s campus, planning, development and real estate group, “but how we think care will be delivered in the future.”

That future is expected to include a growing focus on high-acuity outpatient care and serve patients from outside the Portland metropolitan area who, Newman said, comprise 40 percent of OHSU’s patients and 60 percent of its cancer patients.

A guest housing tower will provide lodging, meals and support to pediatric and adult patients and their families. In addition to 76 rooms, the housing tower will feature a large children’s play area and a separate exterior space for adults. Newman said the housing is likely to be run under an agreement with the Ronald McDonald House.

A sky bridge – also approved this week by the Portland City Council -- will connect the buildings.

In other matters, Kirstin Lutz, faculty senate president, told the board that while “faculty is generally satisfied” and “feels we are moving in a positive direction,” the more than 2,900 OHSU faculty members face increasing challenges with less federal grant money available and “more competition and expectations for productivity.”

Board Chairman Jay Waldron said he’s been “impressed by the faculty’s ability to pivot as federal money goes away, bringing in money from private sources.”

“If faculty is not desirous of more resources, they are not the faculty we want,” said Dr. Joe Robertson, OHSU’s president.

Lutz also reported on a Faculty First Initiative intended to improve transparency and equity across faculty bodies, saying. “Academic rank and progression is sometimes clear and sometimes less so.”

Jan can be reached at [email protected].