Medical Center had $1.3 billion impact in 2011, study finds

wcrenshaw@macon.comAugust 15, 2013 

Pine_New_St

A report released by the Georgia Hospital Association estimates The Medical Center of Central Georgia, seen in this file photo, had a $1.3 billion economic impact in 2011.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

A report by the Georgia Hospital Association estimates The Medical Center of Central Georgia had a $1.3 billion economic impact in 2011.

According to a Medical Center news release, the hospital had $578 million in direct spending that year, while sustaining 10,000 full-time jobs in the region.

The total economic impact is based on an economic multiplier by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis that considers the “ripple effect” of direct hospital expenditures.

Local economic development officials said they were not surprised by the results.

“Over the last decade, the strength of our medical community has been a real bright spot in the local economy,” said Robbo Hatcher, chairman of the Macon Economic Development Commission. “We are just glad to have a successful local medical community. So many communities have struggling hospitals.”

Pat Topping, senior vice president of the commission, said medical care is an important factor when businesses are looking to locate in the area.

“We are fortunate to have such great access to health care here in Bibb County,” he said. ”It certainly is a plus when we are recruiting companies.”

The report also stated that the hospital provided $50 million in uncompensated care in 2011.

“The new report released by GHA shows that, even in difficult economic times, The Medical Center of Central Georgia has an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” Dr. Ninfa Saunders, president and CEO of the Medical Center, said in a release.

The release said a third of Georgia’s hospitals are losing money.

“Although we will be presented with challenges in the coming months, we’ve made a commitment to our community to continue to provide the highest quality care, close to home,” Saunders said. “We have taken a number of steps, including partnerships with other Georgia hospitals, to effectively manage costs with a constant focus on quality and safety.”

The release stated that the hospital serves a growing number of uninsured patients, and state payments do not cover all of those costs. Saunders urged state lawmakers to work to protect health care systems.

“A local health care system is indispensable to any community,” she 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. We look to our lawmakers to take the necessary steps to protect our local health care systems, and we as a hospital will continue to work to preserve access.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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