SoutheastHealth outlook revised to negative as system faces 'headwinds'

Cape Girardeau, Mo.-based SoutheastHealth had its rating outlook revised to negative from positive March 14 as the system faces what Moody's called "headwinds in returning to historically stronger performance."

SoutheastHealth, which operates a 245-bed flagship hospital as well as a community hospital and outpatient clinics, is unlikely to meet its debt coverage obligations in fiscal 2022 and is planning to hire consultants to deal with such headwinds, Moody's said.

The negative outlook reflects operating challenges the system will have in 2023 and even beyond, with a downgrade of its bond rating likely if certain targets are not met. For now, SoutheastHealth's bonds were affirmed at "Ba1."

SoutheastHealth signed a letter of intent Jan. 30 to merge with St. Louis-based Mercy, a 42-hospital system. That proposed transaction was not taken into account for Moody's revised outlook, the ratings agency said.

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