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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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More on what Moody’s had to say about Mary Washington Healthcare

According to Moody's, the losses at Stafford Hospital have been greater than what management expected.

When Moody’s Investors Service lowered Mary Washington Healthcare’s bond rating, it published a three-page explanation for its action. A close reading of Moody’s analysis reveals several interesting items. For example:

*Admissions at Mary Washington Hospital were 31,000 in 2008. Two years later, admissions at Mary Washington and Stafford Hospital combined had dropped to 29,000. The reasons: the opening of the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, the recession, and the fact that more patients are being termed “outpatients” by Medicare and the insurance companies.

*Moody’s also noted that Spotsylvania Regional poses a real threat to Mary Washington’s business. One in three residents of the area lives in Spotsylvania County, it said, and many of them may shift their business to Spotsylvania Regional.

*As for Stafford Hospital, Moody’s described its start-up as “difficult” and the losses there as “substantial.” One reason, according to Moody’s, was the limited support from “legacy MWH physicians” who did not want to open satellite offices at Stafford.

Sean Barden, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Mary Washington, said this morning, “We really wanted to give Fredericksburg-area doctors the first right of refusal for establishing themselves at Stafford. It would have been harmful to our relationship with them if we had brought in a bunch of outside people to staff that hospital.” Many local doctors decided not to go to Stafford, he added, in part because of the difficult economy.

(Yesterday’s post about Moody’s action can be seen here. It contains a link to Moody’s analysis and to a July story about a similar downgrade of Mary Washington by Fitch Ratings. For more detail about  Moody’s action, see the story in tomorrow’s paper.)

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