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Medical center pumps $1 billion into local, state economy
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Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s efforts to make a positive impact on the local economy have succeeded, according to a study by the Georgia Hospital Association.

The GHA, a nonprofit trade association, released a study that determined NGMC exceeded $1 billion in local and state economic revenue for the second consecutive year in 2011.

This association is the largest hospital trade resource in Georgia and serves more than 170 hospitals in the state. Its purpose is to promote the development of improvements in hospital care through information and education.
Kevin Bloye of the GHA said the association commends NGMC for its economic impact and contribution, which makes it stand above the rest. He said the over $1 billion of economic input is a plus for the area.

“It’s a significant number compared to the rest of the state,” Bloye said. “It’s probably in the top 10 percent, for sure, maybe even higher.”

The number represents not only revenue but also the impact that the hospital has on the overall economy and well-being of the community the hospital serves, he said.

“That’s a very strong, vibrant health care system that employs a lot of people, has cutting-edge technology and does a great job meeting the health care needs of that area,” he said.

Some figures released with the report also showed that in 2011, NGMC gave more than $47 million in indigent care and charity to the uninsured, not including free screenings and education it provided to the community. It made a positive contribution to the job market, creating and sustaining more than 8,000 full-time jobs in Georgia. Another 5,000 employees were directly hired by the Northeast Georgia Health System.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce noticed the report and recognized the hospital for its contribution to the community and its economy. The figure only shows the usual commitment to the community that the hospital has always shown, said Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the chamber.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Dunlap said. “We’ve seen the hospital certainly grow with facilities, certainly grow with employees, certainly grow with physicians, and so it really doesn’t surprise me.”

Dunlap has worked on the hospital board over the years. She said that in her experience with the chamber, the importance of health care to the economy and commerce of Hall County remains significant.

“The access to the health care and the physicians means everything to the business we’re in,” she said.

“They contribute to our education. They contribute to our government success. Everything about the hospital and what they are doing and the reputation they have as the No. 1 hospital in cardiac care in Georgia brings other physicians that are not familiar with the hospital. It means a lot to what we do.”

She said the hospital is considered a mainstay in the local job market.

“Our economy is very diverse anyway,” she said. “If you look at almost any segment of the economy, health care is at the forefront of jobs created in the last few years and continues to be.”

NGMC officials have known the importance of the definitive $1 billion mark and what it means about the system’s impact on the state and local economy for years. The achievement has been a long time effort pushed by the hospital, which it intends to maintain, said Brad Nurkin, president of NGMC.

“We have been closing in on the $1 billion mark for several years, and we finally surpassed it last year,” Nurkin said. “To surpass the mark again demonstrates that Northeast Georgia Medical Center is a consistent engine for our local economy.”

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