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Artist rendering of the $100 million Deborah Heart and Lung expansion project.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved an $88.2 million loan to Deborah Heart and Lung Center, providing New Jersey’s only specialty heart, lung and vascular hospital with the final piece of funding needed to move forward with a $100 million expansion and capital improvement project.

The USDA loan is funded through its Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program and will be used to upgrade Deborah’s double-occupancy in-patient rooms to private suites, pay for the construction of a new in-patient tower of individual patient rooms, and provide other improvements.

The building project, dubbed “DEBORAH 100,” is expected to break ground within the next few months, with construction tentatively scheduled for completion near the end of 2022, to coincide with Deborah’s 100th anniversary. The new three-floor addition will be constructed on top of existing hospital space and will include two floors with 18 private, critical care rooms on each floor, and a third floor dedicated to mechanical space. This project will give the hospital, located in Browns Mills, a total of 95 beds.

“We are delighted to receive word of the loan approval,” said Joseph Chirichella, president and CEO at Deborah Heart and Lung Center. “We had this project on the drawing board before the pandemic, and even with the enormous difficulties and stresses placed on healthcare during the past year, our team forged ahead with our planning for the future.

“As a rural hospital located in Burlington County, New Jersey, we are critical to the health of our community, the residents of which may not otherwise have access to the high-tech heart, lung and vascular services we offer,” Chirichella said. “This construction will ensure this access and offers a vibrant opportunity for the area.”

USDA Rural Development offers loans, grants and loan guarantees to help create jobs and support economic development and essential services in rural communities, such as housing, healthcare, first responder services and equipment, and water, electric and communications infrastructure.

Brandon Pfeilmeier, USDA Rural Development’s acting state director for New Jersey, said although the Community Facilities Program helps provide financial support for many types of essential community projects, those that improve the health and safety of residents are among the most important.

“Having access to high quality medical service is critical to the future of our rural New Jersey communities,” Pfeilmeier said.

According to the USDA announcement, nearly 800,000 rural residents fall within Deborah’s service area.

For more information about the project visit