In 2011, Phoebe Putney Health System generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue for the local, regional and state economy according to a report, just released by the Georgia Hospital Association, the state's largest hospital trade association.
The report also found that, during the same time period, Phoebe Putney Health System provided approximately $64,868,211 in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 9,968 full-time jobs throughout Southwest Georgia and the rest of the state.
The report revealed that Phoebe Putney Health System had direct expenditures of more than $578,411,393 in 2011. When combined with the an economic multiplier developed by the United States Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was $1,321,438,668. 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, Phoebe Putney Health System has an enormous positive impact on our local economy," said Joel Wernick, CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System. "We thank communities in Southwest Georgia for unwavering support of their local hospitalsand 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 Phoebe remains a major component of the area's economic engine, its leadership, like the rest of the Georgia hospital community, is concerned about a wide array of economic challenges including continued cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments and a fast-growing uninsured population that have made it increasingly difficult to meet the community's health care needs. 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 Wernick. "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 Wernick, 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 Wernick. "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 lawmakers will do what is necessary to protect our local health care system and preserve access to health care for every resident of Southwest Georgia."