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Glynn, Camden hospitals tout economic impact

POSTED: September 21, 2014 3:30 p.m.

BRUNSWICK — Southeast Georgia Health System hospitals in Glynn and Camden counties generated more than $533 million in revenue for the local and state economies, 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 period, Southeast Georgia Health System hospitals provided approximately $28 million in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 1,464 full- and part-time jobs. That number does not include team members in the health system’s two senior-care centers or the strategic affiliates, which include four family-medicine centers, three immediate-care centers and 43 physician practices.
The report revealed that Southeast Georgia Health System had direct expenditures of more than $233 million in 2012.
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 $533 million.
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 effect of a change in one industry on the circular flow of spending within an economy as a whole.
“This new report shows that as the state’s economy continued its slow rebound from years of economic downturn, Southeast Georgia Health System maintained an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” said Gary R. Colberg, the president and CEO of the system and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. “We thank our communities for their unwavering support of our hospitals and will continue to work hard to ensure that the residents of our communities have access to health-care services that are second to none in safety, quality and affordability.”
While Southeast Georgia Health System remains a major component of the area’s economic engine, the health system’s leadership is concerned about a wide array of economic challenges that have made it increasingly difficult to meet health-care needs, including continued cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments and a fast-growing uninsured population. Presently, 42 percent of Georgia hospitals operate with negative margins.  
“We’re extremely concerned with the current operating environment for hospitals,” Colberg said. “We’ve made a commitment to every citizen of the communities we serve to be on call for them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, our ability to do so is being compromised when a growing number of our patients are either uninsured or severely underinsured.”
According to Colberg, 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,” Colberg said. “It is not only the primary guardian of health in our community, it is also a major economic engine that is responsible for 2,269 jobs and is one of the key building blocks for everything else in our community, including education and economic vitality. It is our hope that our elected lawmakers will do what is necessary to protect our local health-care system and preserve access to health care for every resident of Southeast Georgia.”

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