Ballad Health reports high marks from credit rating agency, wins praise for pandemic response

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — One of the nation’s leading credit rating agencies today offered rave reviews for Ballad Health’s financial status.

S&P Global Ratings today affirmed Ballad’s credit rating as A- with a stable outlook.

Ballad recently got A ratings from two other two top credit rating services. The health system said it’s the first time in the company’s history or in the history of either of its predecessor organizations to receive “A” ratings from all three credit reporting agencies.

Credit ratings determine a health system’s financial stability and determine the cost of carrying debt.

S&P said Ballad “has responded well to the challenges of the pandemic, taken a proactive and purposeful approach to the merger that includes developing a strong strategic vision, setting explicit financial and non-financial goals, aligning executive and functional leadership, integrating cultures, and leveraging integration best practices.”

“Furthermore, we believe management is making some difficult decisions around the need for consolidation of services across the system, to improve quality and performance, while maintaining access across the region,” said S&P.

But the report included cautions about potential challenges for Ballad Health and other hospitals caused by the pandemic including increased expenses and ongoing shortages of staff.

Ballad Health announced the news about the S&P rating late Friday afternoon. “We have been transparent with the challenges we face, and we are pleased to learn Ballad Health’s resilience stands out as so many health systems continue to struggle,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine. “This is a testament to our Board of Directors, our team members and our physicians, who work so hard each day to serve our region.”

“The looming shortage of nurses is going to be a major concern for the entire healthcare industry going forward, and Ballad Health is working to prepare for this,” Levine said.

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