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Tanner’s Impact: Health System Contributes Almost $947 Million to Region’s Economy


Tanner Health System’s economic impact to the region is more than $946.7 million in revenue for the local economy, according to a new report.

In addition, Tanner incurred over $40 million in uncompensated costs to provide indigent care, charity care, other free care and bad debt expenses to the residents in the health system’s service area.

The annual Economic Impact Report from the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA), using data from 2017 — the most recent data available — shows Tanner also created 8,861 full-time jobs in west Georgia. In addition, the Alabama Hospital Association (ALAHA) reports that 221 full-time jobs were created through Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama, totaling more than 9,000 full-time jobs created throughout west Georgia and east Alabama.

The impact represents a $34.5 million — or almost 4% — increase from the previous year’s impact.

“At Tanner, we’re ensuring our health system is ready to serve our region for generations to come,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System. “Even as many smaller health systems and independent hospitals throughout Georgia are struggling or are being acquired by larger health systems, we’re continuing to grow to better serve our patients and our community.”

Since 2012, 10 Georgia hospitals have closed, and others — especially those in rural areas — are struggling to keep their doors open. According to the most recent Georgia Department of Community Health Hospital Financial Survey, in 2017, almost 44% of all hospitals in Georgia had negative total margins. Half of all Georgia’s hospitals showed reported operating losses on direct patient care.

In Alabama, the story is much the same: the state has lost 12 hospitals in the past eight years, and 88% of Alabama’s rural hospitals operate in the red. Three quarters of all Alabama hospitals operate with negative margins.

Nationwide, about 80 rural hospitals have closed since 2010 — most located in the South.

In Carroll County, fully 20% of all jobs in the county are either in or rely on the healthcare industry, according to the GHA report. In Haralson County, 12% of all jobs are in or owed to health care.

A huge strain on hospital finances continues to be the explosive growth of uncompensated care. In 2017, Georgia hospitals absorbed more than $2.1 billion in costs for care that was provided but not paid for. In the same year, Georgia’s uninsured rate was 15.4% — the fifth-highest in the nation behind only Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Alaska. Additionally, Medicaid pays Georgia hospitals only about 87% of actual costs, meaning hospitals lose 13 cents on every dollar spent treating Medicaid recipients.

“Despite these contributions, many of our hospitals face extreme financial pressure,” said GHA Chairman John Haupert, who also serves as CEO of Atlanta-based Grady Health System. “Each hospital is doing everything possible to ensure its stability and remain economically beneficial.”

That makes Tanner’s growing contribution to the region’s economy that much more impressive.

“The reason we’re growing is because the community continues to support us,” said Howard. “Our mission is to provide care for every member of our community, and we’re working every day to continue to earn that support. We’re investing in our facilities and our team, we’re rolling out programs to help keep people healthy and we’re developing leading-edge clinical programs to better serve all the residents throughout west Georgia and east Alabama.”

In recent years, Tanner has expanded its interventional cardiology program to Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica, giving the region a second location for lifesaving interventional cardiac care in addition to Carrollton. The health system has also established accredited chest pain centers in Carrollton and Villa Rica, as well as primary stroke centers in Carrollton, Villa Rica and Bremen.

In October 2018, Tanner opened a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton. Last year, the health system also celebrated the opening of a massive new emergency department and advanced surgical services center at Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica, as well as a new, state-of-the-art surgical services center at Higgins General Hospital in Bremen.

And rising across Dixie Street from Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton is the new Tanner Health Pavilion, a 130,000-square-foot “medical mall” development that will feature outpatient diagnostic imaging services and a host of medical practices, including women’s health, primary care, pediatrics and more. The project, expected to open later in 2019, features ample greenspace and ties the campus into the Carrollton GreenBelt project, underscoring Tanner’s efforts to establish itself as a destination for health and wellness.

“The more than $946 million that Tanner has been able to turn back into the region’s economy is evidence that people from throughout the region continue to trust us with their health,” said Howard. “As a community-based, nonprofit healthcare organization, when people from our community choose Tanner for their care, that translates into investments in new facilities and services, new technologies and more job opportunities for our area.”

GHA compiles its annual Economic Impact Report to provide a better view of how Georgia hospitals serve as vital economic engines for local and state economies. Figures provided by the Georgia Department of Community Health are processed through economic multipliers developed by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis to give a more accurate portrayal of how jobs and revenue generated by hospitals and health systems in Georgia actually impact their local economies.

Based on the hospital’s total direct expenditure — or how much money the hospital spent in 2017 — Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton led the system in economic impact with a total output of almost $530 million injected into the region’s economy. The hospital generated more than 6,000 full-time jobs in the community and led to the contribution of more than $287 million in household income for area residents.

Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica and Willowbrooke at Tanner generated almost $230 million in total output and helped create more than 2,070 full-time jobs, contributing to a total household income of more than $95 million. Higgins General Hospital in Bremen generated almost $76 million in total output, more than 765 full-time jobs and household income of almost $34 million.

Tanner Medical Group, one of metro Atlanta’s largest multi-specialty physician groups, produced a total output of over $96 million for the region’s economy, generated more than $66.5 million in total household earnings and 787 full-time jobs. The group operates medical practices in Carroll, Douglas, Haralson, Heard and Paulding counties in Georgia and in Randolph County, Alabama.

Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama, which opened to patients in November 2017, had a total economic impact of more than $15 million, created more than 220 full-time jobs and generated more than $4.06 million in salaries and benefits in the community while providing more than $1.3 million in uncompensated care, according to ALAHA.

Statewide, Georgia hospitals represented a $54 billion impact to the economy, employing more than 150,000 workers and indirectly creating more than 370,000 full-time jobs. Almost 12% of Georgia’s workforce works in or is supported by the state’s hospitals.

“The dedication of our medical staff and our team of healthcare professionals — as well as the loyalty of our patients — enables Tanner to continue as an economic leader,” said Howard. “Using local services creates local jobs and opportunities for our neighbors.”

Tanner’s impact on job creation extends even further when it comes to attracting new economic prospects to the region, since access to good health care and good schools are among the major considerations of companies that consider establishing operations in a region.

“Health care and education are fundamental parts of a sound economic development program,” said Howard. “That gives the region a significant competitive advantage over many other areas of the state.”

More information about Tanner Health System is available online at www.tanner.org.

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