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IHA Report Says State Hospitals Have $84 Billion Impact

Updated: Saturday, April 19 2014, 05:15 PM CDT

An annual state hospital report says healthcare is one of the states leading employers. Hospitals continue to expand across Central Illinois, but what is making them such a viable employer in the midst of a recovering economy?

Springfield is home to two major hospitals, but across central Illinois there are more than a dozen. Now, according to the Illinois Hospital Association, all those hospitals are making a positive impact on the state's economy.

"In terms of the size of Springfield and the availability of healthcare I am sure it's a community benefit to have both hospitals here," said Larry Ragel, Chief Financial Officer at St. John's Hospital.

Business is literally booming at Springfield's area hospitals. Memorial Medical Center is in the middle of a multi-million dollar expansion.

Just last year, St. John's Hospital wrapped up its biggest expansion ever. That expansion created more rooms, improving patient care, and over the last few years staffing has started to expand as well.

"In terms of employing individuals in our community we employ over 3,000 colleagues at St John's Hospital and most of those people live and work in Springfield," said Ragel.

Those jobs are bringing a boost to the local and state economy. The Illinois Hospital Association estimates health systems have generated an $83.4 billion annual impact. Experts call it a recession proof employer.

"There is always a demand for healthcare. Certainly the demographics of our community and a lot of communities across the United States, it's an aging population and as people age they tend to have more health concerns and health issues to address," said Ragel.

The IHA says 1 out of every 10 jobs in the state are in healthcare. St. John's Hospital says they have experienced that first hand with more students turning to their College of Nursing program.

"In terms of the research that is provided. We are training future physicians here at St John's and the other hospital as well so it's a tremendous benefit to the community," said Ragel.

It's a benefit area business leaders hope will continue to drive the local economy.

We spoke with the Executive Director of Downtown Springfield Inc. who believes healthcare is one of the top employers in our area. She says hospitals have picked up the slack in terms of the economy after thousands of government jobs left the area.

The IHA says Illinois hospitals have absorbed more than $11 billion in medicare payment reductions over the last 10 years. Officials say any further cuts could impact job growth within health services.

IHA Report Says State Hospitals Have $84 Billion Impact

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