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Hospital impacts local economy

By JAN GODWIN

Public Relations Director

In 2009, Memorial Hospital and Manor in Bainbridge generated an economic impact of more than $69 million for the local economy, according to a recent report by the Georgia Hospital Association, the state’s largest hospital trade association.

The report also found that, during the same time period, Memorial Hospital and Manor provided approximately $3.8 million in uncompensated care while promoting more than 998 full-time jobs throughout the state. Memorial Hospital and Manor is also the second largest employer in Decatur County with approximately 500 employees.

The report revealed that Memorial Hospital and Manor had direct expenditures of more than $28,078,309 in 2009. When combined with the economic multiplier developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was more $69,429,235. This output multiplier considers the “ripple” effect of direct hospital expenditures on other sectors of the economy, such as medical supplies, durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. Economic multipliers are used to model the resulting impact of a change in one industry on the “circular flow” of spending within an economy as a whole.

“This new report shows that, even in these difficult economic times, Memorial Hospital and Manor has an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” said Billy Walker, CEO of Memorial Hospital and Manor. “We are grateful for the community’s unwavering support of our local hospital and will continue to work hard to ensure that the citizens of this community have access to health care services that are second to none in quality and affordability.”

While Memorial Hospital and Manor remains a major component of the area’s economic engine, the hospital’s leadership, like the rest of the Georgia hospital community, is concerned about a wide array of economic challenges that have made it increasingly difficult to meet the community’s health care needs, including continued cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments and a fast-growing uninsured population. Presently, more than a third of all hospitals in Georgia are operating with negative margins.

“We’re extremely concerned with the current operating environment for hospitals,” said Walker. “We’ve made a commitment to every citizen of this community to be on call for them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Unfortunately, our ability to do so is being compromised when we’re seeing an increasing number of uninsured patients while the state is paying us far less than what it actually costs to treat Medicaid patients.”

According to Walker, state lawmakers must work to protect the state’s health care system with the same fervor that they do other initiatives like education and public utilities.

“Our local health care system is indispensable,” Walker said. “It is the primary guardian of health in our community and is the key building block for everything else in our community including education and economic vitality. In these challenging economic times, we remain hopeful that our elected legislators will do what is necessary to protect our local health care system and preserve access to health care for every resident of Decatur County.”