Maryland Proton Treatment Center more financially stable after $277.4 million bond sale

The Maryland Proton Treatment Center is more financially stable and better able to focus on its core mission of treating cancer patients after raising $277.4 million in a tax-free bond sale and converting to a nonprofit, executives said Wednesday.

The proton center, an affiliate of the University of Maryland Medical Center, was able to reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet by refinancing its bank loan at a lower interest rate through sale of the bonds, said Leigh T. Howe, president and chief executive of the proton center.

The center uses a form of cancer therapy that more precisely targets radiation to tumors, resulting in fewer side effects, that has not gained widespread acceptance as a treatment option due to its cost.

The restructuring comes more than two years after the center opened. The center, like many proton centers around the country, never made money and lost more than $1 million last year.

Built at a cost of $200 million, the center isn’t treating as many patients as its original investors, who face huge losses, had expected.

The Public Finance Authority, a tax-exempt bond issuing authority created by local governments, executed the transaction for the proton center.

“Now that we have the financial piece, the stability piece, out of the way, we are actually able to move forward and focus on the mission of treating cancer patients,” said Jason Pappas, its founding partner.

Nothing will change for patients and affiliate partners of the proton center because of the restructuring, Howe said. Medical experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Maryland Medical Center staff and other medical institutions will continue to operate the center and deliver top-quality care to patients.

The center has treated more than 1,200 patients from more than a dozen countries.

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