After a planned merger with Partners HealthCare failed last year, South Shore Hospital is trying to reinforce its place in the market with more than $200 million in facilities and software upgrades.
The 370-bed Weymouth hospital has received $137 million in bond financing from the state’s economic development agency and plans to raise money from donations to help cover the remainder of the costs.
South Shore is planning to add two floors to an existing building, constructing a new critical care unit for patients needing complex care. It will convert the current critical care unit into a medical and surgical area with 24 new beds. That work is expected to cost $62 million.
South Shore is also spending $160 million to launch an electronic health records system developed by Epic Systems Corp. of Verona, Wis.
South Shore, a dominant provider south of Boston, had planned for several years to be acquired by Partners, the state’s largest health care system. But Partners abandoned the plan after state health officials and a judge voiced antitrust concerns, worried that the deal would have led to higher medical spending statewide.
Attorney General Maura Healey threatened to sue to block the deal.
Now South Shore is moving on independently, borrowing and raising capital. The hospital still has clinical affiliations with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of Partners’ largest teaching hospitals.
“If things had gone a different way [with Partners], we probably could have used their system funds,” spokeswoman Sarah Darcy said. “Certainly, we’ve had to do this on our own.”
After the Partners deal fell apart, South Shore acquired a group of about 70 doctors, hired a new chief executive, Dr. Gene E. Green, and started marketing its parent company under a new name, South Shore Health System.
South Shore is following the lead of many other local health systems, including Partners, by choosing Epic as the vendor for its records software. The rollout of the expensive software has been frustrating for many hospitals, as employees struggle to adapt to the complex new system, which touches virtually every aspect of clinical care. But Darcy said South Shore did its “due diligence” before choosing to spend so much on Epic.
“That was a necessity,” she said. “We needed to have an electronic health record that was going to fulfill requirements of the Affordable Care Act and other requirements.”
The new system is scheduled to launch next July.
The software and construction projects are expected to add more than 200 technology and clinical jobs at South Shore, which has about 5,000 employees systemwide. The construction and renovation projects are expected to take more than two years.