In 2014, West Georgia Health generated more than $304 million in revenue for the local and state 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, West Georgia Health provided approximately $19 million in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 1,400 full-time and part-time jobs throughout LaGrange and the rest of the state. When an employment multiplier is applied to that number, it indicates that West Georgia Health supported 3,189 jobs in the state.
The report revealed that West Georgia Health had direct expenditures of more than $133 million in 2014. When combined with an economic multiplier developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was more than $304 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 impact of a change in one industry on the “circular flow” of spending within an economy as a whole.”
“While West Georgia Health is well known for its role in meeting the health care needs of the residents of LaGrange and Troup County, it also plays an integral role in protecting our area’s economic health,” said Jerry Fulks, West Georgia Health’s President and CEO. “We are so appreciative of our community’s unwavering support of its local hospital and will continue to work hard to ensure that the residents of this area have access to the best and safest health care services available.”
While West Georgia Health 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 a fast-growing uninsured population and inadequate payments from government insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid. Presently, 41 percent of all hospitals in Georgia are operating with negative margins.
“We’re extremely concerned about the current operating environment for hospitals,” Fulks said. “We’ve made a commitment to every citizen of this community to be there for them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, our ability to do so is being compromised when so many of our patients are either uninsured or severely underinsured.” According to Fulks, 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,” he said. “It is not only the primary guardian of health in our community, but it is also a major economic engine in this area. It is our hope that our elected lawmakers will join us in our efforts to protect our local health care system and preserve access to health care for every resident of LaGrange, Troup County and the surrounding area.”