DRMC more than ‘just’ a hospital
December 02, 2012
Danville Register & Bee
Editorial by Eric Deaton
In the spring of 2010, we felt it important to provide our community with a roadmap regarding the future direction of Danville Regional Medical Center and to let the community know the vital role our hospital plays not only in providing affordable, quality health care, but also in driving economic activity and jobs for the region.
In addition to creating a new senior leadership team in 2010, we also released an important economic impact study, which established DRMC as the second-largest private employer in this area, responsible for more than 2,000 local jobs, with millions in payroll, capital expenditures and taxes paid at the state and local level.
We also laid out a strategy for expanding access to affordable quality health care in the region, and have spent the last two years executing that plan.
Earlier this month, Chmura Economics and Analytics released the findings of an updated economic impact study showcasing the role DRMC plays in Danville and Pittsylvania County in terms of employment and economic activity.
I know from more than 25 years of experience working with hospitals in the South that a strong local hospital is critical to economic development.
Despite a challenging economy and uncertainty brought by health care reform, we have expanded our contribution to the economy and are providing greater access to care.
Locally, the report found DRMC increased spending in the community by 10 percent from two years ago and increased employment by 5 percent.
Hospitals play a critical role in economically distressed areas by not only providing care and serving as a vital part of the health care safety net, but also by providing quality jobs, usually paying more than the median salary of the area.
Danville Regional Medical Center accounts for nearly 6 percent of the jobs in this region with 2,220 jobs in Pittsylvania County and Danville. The average wages for these jobs at DRMC are more than 10 percent higher than the regional average.
An aggressive effort at expansion and upgrades has resulted in capital expenditures of more than $33 million in the last five years. This resulted in an estimated 233 jobs in the Danville region in the last five years.
Local annual economic impact of the hospital is about $225 million each year, which is 7 percent of the gross regional product for the Danville region in 2011. Annual purchases in this area have increased by more than 10 percent in the last two years, from $10.8 million in 2009 to $12.2 million in 2011.
Between 2000 and 2011, our region has faced difficult economic circumstances, with employment declining by more than 7,000 jobs since 2000. Meanwhile, DRMC "is playing an important role in stabilizing the regional workforce," according to the study.
The importance of community hospitals in economically distressed areas goes far beyond the care that a family may find it needs and extends to the recruiting of quality high-paying jobs to our area.
As the second-largest private employer in the area, our workforce only continues to grow. Some of this increase can be traced to an aggressive effort at establishing and growing a major residency program that now includes 46 full-time physicians, who are completing their training at DRMC.
These medical professionals are living in our community, spending money in our local businesses and raising their families in the area, in addition to providing access to quality, affordable health care.
In 2011, DRMC received a certificate of need for a new computed tomography (CT) scanner which will be operational in the first quarter of 2013.
Later in 2011, we opened three new physician clinics in Danville, as well as a family health care center in Brosville (and our family health care center in Mount Hermon is set to open in early December).
We expanded our relationship with Duke University Health System in a major way, to formalize a comprehensive hospital patient safety and quality affiliation; and through our affiliation with Duke, we now have the addition of two new Duke-based Cardiothoracic surgeons and a new private diagnostic clinic with three general surgeons.
We will soon break ground on a new free-standing Emergency Department in Danville that will open in 2014. Our new free-standing Emergency Department will provide our community more options to seek urgent and emergent care when they need it.
Expansions of existing medical operations in Gretna and Chatham, including applying for a COPN for a 16-slice CT scanner in Chatham, were announced this summer.
We have expanded access to care for women in the region by adding three new obstetricians/gynecologists to the community. Rural obstetrical care has long been a concern in Virginia and DRMC is working diligently to bring quality care to our community’s new mothers and expand women’s health care services to meet the needs of those we serve.
Next year, in partnership with the Danville Family YMCA, we anticipate relocating DRMC outpatient therapy services (physical, occupational and speech therapies) and phase III cardiac rehab services to the new YMCA Wellness Center, as a result of an expanded partnership between the "Y" and DRMC.
DRMC provided $5.9 million in charity care in 2011, ensuring the delivery of needed health care to all members of our community, regardless of ability to pay. This represents an increase of 78 percent over the last two years.
Additionally, 17.5 percent of DRMC admissions in 2011 were reimbursed through the Medicaid program, which does not cover the actual cost of care. We also provided services to the Free Clinic of Danville and Piedmont Access to Health Services.
Finally, it is important to recognize the role that the Danville Regional Foundation plays in our community.
Created when LifePoint began management of DRMC in 2005, this $200 million foundation is providing grants for health care and education and ensuring continued employment for many in the area while providing critical components of the health care safety net. While wholly separate and independent of DRMC, this foundation was created through the partnership LifePoint has with the community.
Danville Regional Medical Center is committed to this community, and it shows on many fronts.
Deaton is the chief executive officer of Danville Regional Medical Center.
A copy of Danville Regional Medical Center’s economic impact study is available at www.DRMCCares.com.