HAP Report: Penn Highlands Healthcare contributes $906 million to Region’s Economy

May 12, 2015


Penn Highlands Healthcare annually contributes about $906 million to the region’s economy, according to a report recently released by The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP). Penn Highlands also supports 3,636 jobs in the region. 

Penn Highlands Healthcare is comprised of four regional hospitals – Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Clearfield, Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Elk.

The HAP report shows both the human and financial impact of Pennsylvania’s hospitals on communities across the state, as well as on the state as a whole. The economic impact figure reflects contributions to the economy through employment, purchased services and supplies from businesses and capital spending.

“Penn Highlands Healthcare plays a major role in the economic and social well-being of our community,” said Raymond A. Graeca, chief executive officer of Penn Highlands Healthcare. “We are a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, and are playing a critical role in population health efforts that improve quality of life.” 

Penn Highlands Healthcare pays nearly $179 million in salaries. The ripple effect of those salaries through employment created indirectly by the hospital is an additional $158 million, for a total benefit of $337 million in salaries and wages.

Penn Highlands Healthcare’s also supports the community by providing medical care to those unable to pay; providing community services such as free health screenings; and providing in-kind, volunteer and/or financial support to charitable organizations and local community programs, such as the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Free Medical Clinic of DuBois and the Susquehanna Rural Free Medical Clinic. 

“Penn Highlands Healthcare is not only a place for healing, but it is also vital to the region’s economic stability. Our hospitals and the people they employ support local businesses and serve as a crucial economic stimulus. As we move forward, our goal is to continue to invest in the communities we serve and strengthen healthcare and economic resources in the region,” Steven Fontaine, chief operating officer of Penn Highlands Healthcare, said.

Several initiatives are currently under way to accomplish this goal. Among those are a continued emphasis on recruiting physicians and advanced practice providers; improving access to care through new outpatient medical centers in DuBois and Philipsburg; and pursuing critical access designation for Penn Highlands Elk.

Adding more primary care and specialty physicians and mid-level practitioners is a top priority. Thanks to an ongoing aggressive provider recruitment program, the system has 363 physicians and 130 advanced practice providers on staff, with plans to grow.  

In 2014, Penn Highlands Healthcare realized much success in recruiting a number of new physicians, including cardiovascular surgeons, family practitioners and women’s care specialists. A partnership with University Orthopedics Center of State College expanded access to additional orthopedic services such as total joint replacement and sports medicine. 

Working with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Penn Highlands plans to establish a Graduate Medical Education Program focusing on internal medicine, family practice, emergency medicine and surgery.  Penn Highlands will also be working with several medical schools to facilitate the rotation of medical students at all four of the system’s hospitals. By serving as a pathway for medical students, Penn Highlands hopes to encourage these students to remain and practice in the region. 

Two new buildings in the region, representing a total investment of $17 million, will further improve access to care. The Main Street Building in DuBois, slated to open later this summer, will house a retail pharmacy, walk-in clinic, sleep lab, physician offices, an infusion center and gastroenterology suites.

Opening in the fall, the Moshannon Valley Community Medical Building, located on seven acres near the intersection of North Front and Railroad streets in Rush Township, will offer primary care, surgical services, orthopedic services, outpatient diagnostic testing and ophthalmology. Among the new services planned are a walk-in clinic, digital mammography, mobile MRI and bone mineral density testing. A docking area will provide the opportunity for mobile healthcare services in the future.  

Along with the new “QCare” walk-in clinic in Philipsburg, Penn Highlands Healthcare plans to open a walk-in clinic at Penn Highlands Clearfield, along with enhanced outpatient services. 

The new walk-in clinics will build upon the success of others in the health system, which are located in Ridgway, St. Marys, Emporium and DuBois.

Penn Highlands Elk is in the process of obtaining the Medicare designation of a Critical Access Hospital (CAH).  The new designation will positively affect the reimbursement rate that Medicare and Medicaid will pay the hospital for its services. Instead of receiving a percentage of the bill, based on diagnoses codes, the hospital will return to a cost-based reimbursement structure. A large portion of Penn Highlands Elk’s patients are Medicare or Medicaid participants, and the increased reimbursements will have a positive financial impact. 

“These initiatives are among many others that will redefine Penn Highlands Healthcare’s mission, improve customer service, enhance quality and increase access to care at all of our hospitals. It is a privilege for our healthcare system to not only care for the region’s residents, but to also serve as an economic anchor,” Fontaine noted.

Statewide, hospitals contribute $111 billion to the economy, an increase of $7 billion since 2013, and support 591,000 jobs—about one in ten jobs in Pennsylvania.

“Policymakers at all levels of government are working to improve the economic health of the Commonwealth,” said HAP President and CEO Andy Carter. 

“Hospitals and health systems play an integral role in this effort. By example, Governor Wolf seeks to build on the ‘innate strengths of Pennsylvania’s economy.’ His goals of workforce development, attracting investments in research and strengthening our world-class healthcare system align with the hospital and health system community’s vison for the future,” he said.

Carter stressed that hospitals are integrated in their communities – providing relationship-based services. “Hospitals are integral players in improving the quality of life in the Commonwealth. They do this not only through delivery of health care services, but as top employers, creating spin-off services and providing family-sustaining jobs.”

HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 240 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Additional information about HAP is available online at www.haponline.org.