Local Healthcare Supports a Strong Community

The strength of a local community is driven by many factors – a strong job market, great schools, government/business partnerships, diverse industries, stable infrastructure, and recreational and social activities. While we usually associate healthcare to people’s health, access to local healthcare also affects the strength of a community, especially in a rural community. Healthcare in rural communities has been the focus of many studies and the impacts are clear.

Local healthcare means local jobs. A 2017 United States Department of Agriculture study found that inpatient healthcare facilities, like hospitals, attributed to 8.5 percent of wage and salary employment in a rural community. A 2016 study by the National Center for Rural Health Works (NCRHW) found rural primary care physicians practicing in a community with a local hospital creates an estimated 26.3 local jobs and nearly $1.4 million in income from the clinic and hospital.

As one of the largest employers in Manitowoc County, HFM employs more than 1000 individuals. The jobs, all of which are critical to providing care to the community, range from entry level to leadership to support services to healthcare providers. Employees then give back to the community through payment of taxes, purchasing and or renting of homes, support of local businesses, and donations for local causes.

The local jobs extend beyond the healthcare system. The Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative found that for every 2 rural health jobs created, the number of other community jobs increases by 1 job. An example of this non-healthcare job impact is when healthcare facilities build—in 2017 HFM built the HFM Lakefront Campus utilizing many local contractors.

Local healthcare keeps money in the community. Access to local healthcare keeps healthcare spending, insurance premiums and taxes, in the community. A 2016 assessment from the NCRHW found that a Critical Access Hospital generates an average of $1.8 million in annual taxable retail sales in that community. When care is directed out of the community, the money for those services is directed out as well. And the spending then affects other spending. If you drive to Green Bay for an appointment, do you add on a restaurant and/or store stop as well?

Local healthcare networks also provide tax revenue for the community. While it is perceived non-profit healthcare systems like HFM are tax exempt, this is not the case, as many healthcare systems do pay taxes.

Local healthcare impacts quality of life. Quality of life is a well-known factor that businesses and individuals consider when looking to move to new communities. In addition to access to local healthcare, healthcare organizations provide community education or wellness events. Examples include weight reduction programs, local marathons, child birth classes, smoking cessation classes, and athletic trainers in schools. And local healthcare entities reinvest in the local community through sponsorships and donations to other non-profit organizations and events.

In 2019, Holy Family Memorial will be celebrating 120 years of providing local, faith-based healthcare to this community. We’re proud of the positive contributions we make to this place that we call home. With access to local healthcare, Manitowoc County really is a great place to live and work.

About the author.

Brett Norell is president and chief executive officer at Holy Family Memorial. Reach him at bnorell@hfmhealth.org.