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PPHS has $1.3 billion economic impact

ALBANY — In 2011, Phoebe Putney Health System generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue for the regional and state economy, a report recently released by the Georgia Hospital Association shows.

The report also found that, during the same time period, Phoebe Putney Health System provided approximately $64.8 million 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 the health system had direct expenditures of more than $578.4 million in 2011. When combined with the economic multiplier developed by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was just over $1.3 billion.

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.

“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, the system’s CEO, in a statement. “We thank communities in Southwest Georgia for unwavering support of their local hospitals and 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.”

This report comes at a time of economic challenges for the health care industry, including continued cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments and a fast-growing uninsured population.

“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.

“Our local health care system is indispensable. 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.”

Available figures show that, during the 2011 calendar year, Phoebe Dorminy Medical Center in Fitzgerald had a total economic impact of $2.6 million, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus had an impact of $8 million, Phoebe Worth Medical Center in Sylvester had an impact of $3 million and the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert had an impact of $974,878.

At the same time, the two campuses in Albany, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe North, had an economic impact of $40.1 million and $10 million, respectively.