UIHC brings nearly $700 million to area

BY ARIANA WITT | MARCH 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics contributed nearly $700 million to Johnson County’s economy over the last year, according to a statewide report.

The Iowa Hospital Association’s annual study suggested the UIHC also generated 14,743 jobs. Employees at the UIHC spent a little more than $244.4 million in retail sales and $14.6 million in sales tax.

“I think it does demonstrate the importance of the UIHC and UI Health Care for the region, the corridor, and the state,” said Jean Robillard, the UI vice president for Medical Affairs. “It’s our responsibility to generate these jobs and employment and to also provide quality health care.”

Johnson County’s additional health facilities — Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Mercy Iowa City — contributed approximately $152 million and $109 million, respectively.

Hospitals across the state contributed almost $6.1 billion to their respective counties in the last year.

Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said the number of patients and visitors the hospital sees directly affects revenue at hotels, restaurants, and shops.

“It’s absolutely huge,” Neuzil said. “We all know that almost our entire viability comes from one of our largest employers, and that is the UIHC.”

Neuzil said such figures are reasons local government should continue to lobby for UIHC funding and employees to ensure it can continue with this type of impact.

“With all the coming expansions, I think we’ll see more and more sufficient numbers from health-care services provided in Johnson County,” said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville.

Robillard said he feels the current arrangement UIHC officials have with the Legislature is ideal.

Though the UIHC is self-funded, the Legislature allocated some funds — roughly $600,000 — to the hospital this year because it functions as part of the UI, said Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville.

“Our role is to provide good health care in Iowa, and we do that in limiting the cost generated by requesting from the state,” Robillard said.

UIHC officials reported an increase in patient revenue for fiscal 2011. Revenue totaled $606,712 from July 2010 to January 2011, an increase from $543,703 over the same period in 2010. Patient revenue accounted for $577,930.

“I would have guessed that number would have been closer to $1 billion,” Jacoby said about the $700 million. “It does create a good argument to increase the state allocation to university and professors and support staff. There is that relationship with the teaching and the research seen at the hospital.”

Dvorsky said quantifying the hospital’s impact helps show how important health care is the local economy, but he doesn’t think it will result in more funds from legislators.

“Iowa hospitals are at the foundation of Iowa’s economy and remain major employers and business partners in all parts of the state,” said Kirk Norris, the president and CEO of the Iowa Hospital Association in a press release. “Iowa’s economic security is directly tied to having one of the finest health-care systems in the nation.”

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