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Last week's announcement regarding the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's $650 million expansion plan was received with cheers by many, including Mayor John Street.

As the finest children's hospital in the region -- and indeed one of the best in the nation -- such a dramatic expansion will bring jobs and better health care to Philadelphia. This bodes well for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania since the two share some research facilities and faculty. Penn should continue to work with and learn from its neighbor -- CHOP has shown us how to run an efficient health care operation.

CHOP intends to pay for the expansion out of the hospital's profits, a fundraising campaign and through the issuance of bonds, rather than relying on public tax subsidies. While this seems feasible, CHOP must remember the hard lessons learned by the Health System, which is beginning to recover after posting nearly $300 million in losses in 199' and 1999.

In order to avoid such financial pitfalls, CHOP leadership should be cautious and work extensively with recently appointed UPHS permanent CEO, Robert Martin. Although UPHS remains on shaky ground, under Martin's leadership they have begun their financial turnaround, posting a profit in the first half of Fiscal Year 2001.

However, CHOP should be wary of such a financial endeavor considering the current economic downturn. They should focus on completing other projects, such as the creation of a joint cancer center between CHOP and HUP, which has not moved beyond planning stages due to lack of funding.

And construction has begun on a 2.2 acre parking garage on the site of the former Civic Center -- also shared between the two facilities. CHOP must front $100 million of the $450 million project.

We hope that CHOP is able to secure sufficient funds so that the projects go smoothly. The expansion of such a prestigious facility will benefit not just the University City community, but children in the Delaware Valley.

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