In 2011, Southeast Georgia Health System hospitals in Glynn and Camden counties generated more than $517,056,308 in revenue for the local and state economy according to a recent report by the Georgia Hospital Association, the state’s largest hospital trade association. The report also found that, during the same period, Southeast Georgia Health System provided approximately $29,403,926 in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 1,531 full and part-time jobs. (This number does not include team members in the Health System’s two Senior Care Centers or the strategic affiliates, which include the four Family Medicine Centers, three Immediate Care Centers and numerous physician practices.)

The report revealed that Southeast Georgia Health System had direct expenditures of more than $226,322,467 in 2011. When combined with the an economic multiplier developed by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was more $517,056,308. 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. Economic multipliers are used to model the resulting impact of a change in one industry on the “circular flow” of spending within an economy as a whole.

“This new report shows that, even in these difficult economic times, Southeast Georgia Health System has an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” said Gary R. Colberg, FACHE, President & CEOof the Health System. “We thank our communities’ unwavering support of their local hospitals and will continue to work hard to ensure that the citizens of these communities have access to health care services that are second to none in quality and affordability.”

While Southeast Georgia Health System remains a major component of the area’s economic engine, the hospital’s leadership, like the rest of the Georgia hospital community, is concerned about a wide array of economic challenges that have made it increasingly difficult to meet the community’s health care needs including continued cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments and a fast-growing uninsured population. Presently, more than a third of all hospitals in Georgia are operating with negative margins.

“We’re extremely concerned with the current operating environment for hospitals,” said Colberg.“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.”

According to Colberg, state lawmakers must work to protect the state’s health care system with the same fervor that they do other initiatives like education and public utilities.

“Our local health care system is indispensable,” Colberg said. “It is the primary guardian of health in our community and is one of the key building blocks for everything else in our community including education and economic vitality. It is our hope that, even in these challenging economic times, 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 southeast Georgia.”