The Issue: Story County Medical Center is continuing to grow to serve the health care and wellness needs of area residents. Money was spent on the new expansion of the medical center, which recently opened, and more money may eventually be spent to further expand the services and connections of the hospital to more wellness services … such as the possibility of building a community recreation center near the hospital.

The Local Impact: Success of the local hospital means additional dollars going into the local economy through hospital employees and through other employers that choose to come here because of the great amenities of the area, including top-notch health care facilities and staff. A local hospital is, quite frankly, part of the lifeblood and well-being of a local economy.

This winter, the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) released its most recent report on the economic impact of Iowa’s hospitals and health care facilities, which provide nearly 325,000 jobs.

Nevada’s Story County Medical Center supports 273 jobs, with a payroll of $13.3 million. The people who work for the local hospital are estimated to put over $5 million of retail sales into the local economy and therefore, provide sales tax dollars of over $300,000.

The IHA study, according to a press release issued by the organization, examined the jobs, income, retail sales and sales tax produced by hospitals and the rest of the state’s health care sector, to come up with a total statewide economic impact of $6.8 billion to the state of Iowa’s economy.

The IHA press release quoted IHA president and CEO Kirk Norris, who said, “Through the many changes in health care, there is one certainty — that hospitals and health care are vital to Iowa’s economy. With nearly 325,000 jobs, health care is one of Iowa’s largest employers and hospitals remain, by far, the biggest contributor to that number. In Iowa cities and counties, hospitals are uniformly among the largest employers.”

Story Medical recently celebrated the opening of an expansion to its Nevada facility on the south side of town, allowing the hospital to now offer clinic and rehab services and many other vital health care components, all in one place.

If people haven’t already, Nevada Economic Development Director LaVon Schiltz encourages, “Everybody should take a tour (of the new hospital expansion in Nevada) and be aware of it. It’s really fantastic for a community of this size.”

While not included in the IHA report, Schiltz said another way that local hospitals, and especially top-notch facilities in a town the size of Nevada, help with economic impact is by making the community even more attractive to companies looking to locate here.

“Let’s face it, when you’re talking about industrial (facilities), they work with a lot of equipment… That (having a local hospital) plays a factor for them. We are a little more competitive by having Story Medical right here in town,” she said.

The local hospital is just one of the things that makes a community or rural area appealing, Schiltz said. “I think any time any community, no matter how big or how small, can have top-notch school systems, health facilities, government facilities, retail shops, professional job opportunities, a community newspaper … all of these things say, ‘We have big potential for growth.’”

And the Nevada area and Story County in general are showing that growth is on the horizon. “Now we have more new homes coming into the community … all of those things make a difference,” Schiltz said.

Local hospital officials highlight that some of the things that help Story Medical’s success, and therefore its ability to positively impact the local economy, are as follows: ambulance and emergency departments; the only helipad in Story County; an 80-bed nursing home; being the only hospital in the county with skilled inpatient rehabilitative care; providing many outpatient services; providing an operating room and many surgical services; a strong rehabilitation component with its partnership with 21st Century Rehab; three primary clinic facilities in Nevada, Maxwell and Zearing; being easily accessible right off of Highway 30 and having shorter wait times than larger facilities.

Debbie Miner, chief financial officer for Story Medical, said in addition to the economic impact outlined in the IHA report, Story Medical as an organization also impacts the local community through charitable care for those in need through its Story Care Program; health improvement services, such as CPR, first aid and wellness classes; health professions education, such as training the county’s volunteer first responders; employee in-kind services to community organizations and more.

Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames is also important to the growth and vitality of Ames and Story County. The only other hospital in Story County employs 1,280, with a payroll of $77,559,974, generating an estimated $30,101,944 in retail sales and sales tax of over $1.8 million.

Norris said, “As our political leaders in Washington, D.C., and Des Moines consider legislation and regulations that impact hospitals and health care, they need to keep these facts in mind. As providers of high-quality, low-cost health care, good jobs and economic stability, there is no replacement for community hospitals.”