County health sector has $60 million economic impact

In addition to providing medical and related services the health sector generates more than $60 million in economic activity in Union County, with most of it generated by the Union Hospital District.

A study conducted by the South Carolina Office of Rural Health of the health sector’s impact on Union County’s economy in 2012 found that a total of 1,094 jobs were created either directly or indirectly by local health care services with a total of payroll of $49,300,743. The study also found that, directly or indirectly, the health sector and its employees generated retail sales totaling $11,832,178.

Union Hospital District CEO Paul Newhouse said that the study shows that not only does the health sector address the medical needs of the people of Union County, it also makes a significant contribution to the economy.

“What it is talking about is the importance of rural hospitals in rural communities,” Newhouse said. “It really goes beyond just taking care of patients. The impact goes much further.”

The study states that the health sector is divided into five components including:

• Hospitals

• Doctors and dentists (and other medical professionals)

• Nursing and protective care

• Pharmacies

• Other medical and health services including home health and county health departments, EMS, and medical diagnostic labs.

The study states that the health sector employed a total of 853 full- and part-time employees in 2012 with an estimated annual payroll of $42,180,055. The largest employer was Wallace Thomson Hospital with 294 employees and a payroll of $18,082,701.

Other medical and health services was next with 215 employees and a $7,613,885 payroll. Nursing and protective care services had 197 employees and a payroll of $6,644,072. Physician, dental and other health care practices employed 77 with a $7,134,100 payroll. The pharmacies employed 70 with a $2,705,297 payroll.

The Union Hospital District is composed of Wallace Thomson Hospital, Ellen Sagar Nursing Home, the Union County EMS, and Carolinas Health Associates. Newhouse said that Ellen Sagar employs 110 employees with a $3,557,582 payroll; the EMS 41 employees with a payroll of $1,448,752; and CHA 69 employees and a $7,134,100 payroll.

When all these are combined with the workforce and payroll of the hospital, Newhouse said that for fiscal 2012-2013 the district employed a total of 514 employees with a payroll totaling $30,223,129. This means the district employs more than 60 percent of the persons employed in the health sector in Union County and generates nearly 75 percent of its total payroll.

In addition to its own workforce, the report found the health sector created another 237 jobs through business and household spending generating an additional payroll totaling $7,120,688. The hospital district was again responsible for the majority of this, creating 161 of the jobs with a payroll of $4,891,229

The hospital district’s share of the retail sales created by the health sector is even greater. Of the $11,832,178 in retail sales generated by the health sector and its employees, $8,427,447 was generated by the hospital district and its employees.

In addition to the jobs and payroll it creates and its impact on retail sales, the report states the health sector also plays an important role in business recruitment. The report also states that the importance of the health sector to the community as a provider of health care services will grow with the aging of the population.

“Historically, the health sector has been an important component to many communities. With the growing number of older Americans, this sector will become increasingly more important. The community health sector not only provides jobs and improves the quality of life for its citizens; it also enables communities to attract new businesses. In summary, the health sector is important as a community employer and vitally important to the community’s economy.”

By Charles Warner, Staff Reporter with The Union Daily Times