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Phoebe generates $816M into area

ALBANY -- In 2007, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital generated roughly $816 million in revenue for the local economy, according to a recent report by the Georgia Hospital Association.

The report also found that, during the same time period, Phoebe provided approximately $36 million in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 3,458 part- and full-time jobs throughout Albany and the rest of the state.

"This is a recognition of the number of jobs in health care and related fields," said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick. "I think there is a lot more than people understand."

Phoebe ranks in the top five for the area's largest employers, with the hospital likely holding the No. 2 spot behind Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, said Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission Spokeswoman Barbara Rivera Holmes.

A similar GHA report on Palmyra Medical Center indicated that the hospital's total direct expenditure was $54.5 million in 2007. The facility sustained 465 part- and full-time jobs while providing a total of $4.6 million in uncompensated care.

The report on Phoebe revealed the hospital had direct expenditures of more than $330 million. 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 approximately $816 million.

"We have been aggressively trying to build a system to allow people to stay in Southwest Georgia (for care)," Wernick said. "It reflects well on what we are doing."

When taking the same multiplier into account, Palmyra's total economic impact was $135 million. When asked for comment as to how the hospital's economic impact benefits the community, Spokesman Eric Riggle said one would not be available Monday.

Given the constant need for health care services, the industry has been able to remain a steady source of jobs in the midst of economic doldrums, Wernick said.

"People continue to have health issues and the services provided have remained (steady)," he said.

The 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.