MEADOWS REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER PUMPS OVER $136 MILLION INTO THE LOCAL ECONOMY
Vidalia, GA- During a time when Georgia's economy took a nosedive, Meadows Regional Medical Center continued to provide the county with a major boost by pumping over $136 million into its economy in 2009, according to a recent report commissioned by the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA), the state's largest hospital trade association. Hospital spokesperson, Elizabeth Harvill, stated that this was in addition to the impact of the new hospital construction project, which represented over a $50 million contract on its own.
The report also found that, during the same time period, Meadows Regional Medical Center provided approximately $6,422,098 in uncompensated care while employing more than 700 people.
The report revealed that Meadows had direct expenditures of more than $55,063,836 in 2009. When combined with an economic multiplier developed by the United States Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was more than $136,156,347. 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.
Health care is a significant force that contributes to the economic stability and growth across all regions of the state. Hospitals often serve as an integral part of the overall package used to attract industry to the community. According to Bill Mitchell, President of the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, "A strong health care system can help attract and maintain business and industry growth, attract and retain retirees, and create jobs in the local area."
"This new report shows that, even in these difficult economic times, Meadows has an enormous positive impact on our local economy," said Alan Kent, President & CEO of MRMC. "We thank our community for its unwavering support of their 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 Meadows 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 Alan Kent. "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. But our ability to do so is being compromised when, in many cases, 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 Kent, 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," said Kent. "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. It is our hope that, even in these challenging economic times, that our elected officials will do what is necessary to protect our local health care system and preserve access to health care for every resident of Toombs, Montgomery and surrounding counties."