Robert Rosenthal A Pioneer In Medical Building Financing
(Reprinted from the San Diego Daily Transcript, November 11, 1999)
He had an objective: to build healthcare facilities for hospitals and medical groups. He developed a plan: through a unique financing strategy, offer these new facilities at no cost to the hospital or medical group. He started a company: acquiring the western division of a national development company, he established Pacific Medical Buildings. And that was just the start.
Today, Robert (Bob) Rosenthal is a renowned expert on healthcare facility development. His fame not only stems from 35 years of experience, but from his innovative financing strategy that has provided a solution for many cash-strapped hospitals in need of expansion.
As managing partner of Pacific Medical Buildings, Rosenthal executes his unique development strategy that is providing new medical office buildings, outpatient clinics and parking facilities to hospitals and medical groups throughout the West. Through Rosenthal’s development plan, Pacific acts as the owner/investor of a new facility while handling the design, construction, leasing and management. This frees the hospitals from any of the risk and investment typically associated with real estate development, providing a new facility for free.
“Most of the hospitals that come to us are attracted not only to our financing plan but to our philosophy of doing business,” said Rosenthal. “We’re not looking to sell our facilities once construction is completed. I believe in maintaining a long-term relationship with our clients by continuing to manage a facility after it is built.”
The Del Mar-based company has built 61 medical facilities in 39 cities. There has never been a time when hospitals have needed Pacific’s services more than now. Several factors are leaving hospitals with less capital and an increased need for expansion. The effects of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 on Medicaid funding, costly Y2K preparations and the seismic retrofit legislation in California are leaving hospitals without the free capital they need for expansion. Rosenthal’s development plan is getting more attention as hospital executives seek funding for their needed facilities.
“Today hospitals are being hit left and right with more challenges to keeping their doors open. They are in the process of converting themselves from traditional hospitals to outpatient centers with beds. That takes capital. Hospitals are looking to outside investors, and they’re increasingly turning to investors like us,” said Rosenthal.
Rosenthal’s interest in architecture and construction began early in his life. Born and raised in Chicago, Rosenthal selected the University if Illinois to study architecture. He earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1955. After working with a Frank Llyod Wright apprentice from the world-famous Taliesin Estate, Rosenthal established his own architectural practice that specialized in healthcare architecture in 1959. He then moved his business west from Madison, Wisconsin in 1967 to establish offices in San Francisco and San Diego.
In 1971, Rosenthal sold his firm to American Medical Buildings (AMB) and joined the company as their regional vice president until 1979. He then took a five-year hiatus from AMB to found a hotel real estate development company but returned in 1984. During this second term with AMB, he chaired a task force specializing in creating new building concepts for hospitals and his creative financing strategy was developed. In 1988, he led the buy-out of AMB’s West Coast Division and established Pacific Medical Buildings where he continues healthcare facility development today.
“Healthcare is a very rewarding industry to be involved in,” said Rosenthal. “We’re not just putting up buildings, we’re construction centers for treatment where lives are saved every day. We make it possible for hospitals to expand their facilities to house the latest state-of-the-art technology which can make a difference to so many patients.”
A San Diego resident for 32 years, Rosenthal is very active in the community. He founded the Bank of Del Mar and is a former board member of the La Jolla Chamber Music Society. He is the author of numerous articles in healthcare facility journals. At 67, Rosenthal is an avid swimmer, joining the JCC Masters Swimming Club each day at noon. He looks forward to the La Jolla rough water swim competition each year and enjoys tennis, scuba diving, fishing and windsurfing on a regular basis. Weekends are often spent biking or rollerblading with his five grandsons. He and his wife of 46 years have three children.
Throughout San Diego county, Rosenthal’s work with Pacific is very visible. Pacific has developed facilities on or near the campuses of seven local hospitals including Palomar Hospital, Alvarado Hospital, Sharp Memorial Hospital, Paradise Valley Hospital, Mercy Hospital and Mission Bay Memorial Hospital. And with new facilities currently under construction and plans for many more on the drawing table, there’s no end in sight.
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