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Health care vital to families and business

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Healthcare is a major issue nationwide and especially in the workplace. Every business, large or small, struggles with providing health coverage to their employees. Having healthy workers on the job is vital to the operation of a business. Without quality healthcare, workers cannot be productive. Businesses suffer.

Not only is the healthcare industry important to quality of life for our residents but this sector is an important economic driver.

According to the Louisiana Hospital Association, one in six jobs in Louisiana are in the healthcare sector. Louisiana hospitals provide these services: 534,000 inpatient discharges, 337,000 outpatient surgeries, 2.4 million emergency room visits, and 56, 878 babies delivered.

The amount of services provided by hospitals for low-income patients is substantial, which is why stable state funding is critical to maintain healthy hospitals and communities.

In our five parishes of Southwest Louisiana there are about 17,765 healthcare employees, and about 6,800 of those are hospital employees. From hospital operations and construction projects in our region alone, more than $1.6 billion in business sales have been generated, 12,844 jobs with an annual payroll of $594 million have been created and supported, which has led to the collection of $86 million in state and local taxes. Medicaid providers deliver more than $694 million in healthcare services in this region. Statewide, hospitals create more than 254,000 jobs, with $11.7 billion in annual payroll, with the overall economic impact in the state more than $31.6 billion.

There is a growing nursing shortage in Louisiana and across the nation. To meet the state’s health care needs and fill these jobs, Louisiana must train more nurses. We are very fortunate to have top rated nursing programs at Mc-Neese State University and Sowela Technical Community College. With an aging population, more nurses are needed to care for patients. By 2035, 78 million people will be over 65 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Louisiana, about one third of RNs plan to retire within 10 years. In 2017, 61,000 RNs in Louisiana renewed their licenses with hospitals employing 37,000 RNs.

“We have a shortage of both RNs and LPNs in the state of Louisiana, but the biggest areas of shortage for the state of Louisiana are in rural areas,” according to Dr. Karen Lyon, appointing authority and chief executive officer of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. Of the 4.7 million population in the state, about 1.6 million receive Medicaid. As a percentage of enrollment, Medicaid Expansion adults make up 30.7%, Parents/ Caregivers are at 9%, Elderly 6.8%, Children, 41.5%, and people with disabilities, 12%. Of the $3.2 billion spent on the Medicaid Hospital Program, $477 million are state funds, $563 million are hospital provided funding, and $2.1 billion is in federal matching funds.

Louisiana’s Rural Hospitals provide care close to home. About 16% of the state’s population lives in rural communities. Rural hospitals struggle to recruit doctors and nurses, resulting in a continued shortage of primary and specialty care services.

Overall our region has numerous facilities. In their membership, The Louisiana Hospital Association lists ten acute care hospitals in our region, one critical access hospital, seven behavioral health hospitals and one rehabilitation hospital.

When we stay local and utilize our area’s medical facilities, we get medical services close to home and strengthen the capacity in our area’s healthcare.

In addition to being a major employment sector and economic driver, our health care industry saves lives and improves the quality of life for all in our region.

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