Op-ed: Pa.’s hospitals provide healing, health, hope

//May 8, 2008

Op-ed: Pa.’s hospitals provide healing, health, hope

//May 8, 2008

On May 11-18, we celebrate National Hospital Week. In the
state that is home to the nation’s first hospital, we want to recognize the
dedicated hospital workforce that each day provides compassionate care to our
most vulnerable citizens, celebrates the gifts of new life and medical miracles,
and ensures a safe haven in times of crisis. We also recognize the critical
economic contributions that hospitals make to their communities and the state.

The blue-and-white “H” is the universal symbol for healing,
health and hope. Let’s celebrate the many opportunities the “H” represents and
thank the caregivers who day in and day out meet Pennsylvania patients’ health care needs
with compassion and caring.

Hospitals are cornerstones of their communities, providing
continuous care and support to all who need them. They are also critical to the
viability of the state’s economy. Hospitals do not outsource their jobs or
relocate to healthier economic geographies. They are community assets and are
committed to the families and individuals they serve. As such, hospitals
provide services that would otherwise have to be supported by government,
educate the next generation of health care providers, and play a key role in
medical research and the life sciences.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s
most recent employment data, health services and education employment rose by
1.7 percent in the past 12 months, while manufacturing jobs fell by 2.4
percent. Health care jobs are projected to grow into the next decade,
regardless of changes in the economy. The trend is especially relevant in the
commonwealth, where the shift from manufacturing to service-related industries
has been significant, and health care and education are recognized as economic
drivers of the future.

The economic contributions made by Pennsylvania’s hospitals to local
communities and the state continue to increase, rising to $77 billion in 2006.
More than 563,000 Pennsylvanians depend on hospitals for their jobs through
direct employment and the ripple effect of hospital employment. More than $23.4
billion in total labor income is generated directly and indirectly by Pennsylvania hospitals.

These same hospitals annually admit more than 1.8 million
people, treat nearly 36 million people in an outpatient setting and evaluate 5.6
million people in their emergency departments. Hospitals also provided $678
million in uncompensated care in 2007, as a result of care provided to patients
who were uninsured or underinsured.

It is important to assure that Pennsylvania hospitals are sustained through
appropriate public policy that supports these important and vital state
resources. Pennsylvania
hospitals stand for healing, health and hope. Let’s make sure that we recognize
their contributions and commitment not only during National Hospital Week, but
all year long.

Carolyn F. Scanlan is president and chief executive officer
of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.