Hospitals are not just treatment centers - they are economic engines.
Medical care accounts 1/6 of the US economy. That means that for every $1, 16 cents is spent on medical care. That sounds not so bad until one breaks down what that means in terms of jobs and medical treatment.
Researching the footprint that hospitals have in Western Kentucky only in terms of economic impact starkly illustrates the effect that changes in delivery of health and medical care will have on this region.
In looking at the numbers, we freely admit they are only a snapshot in time. Changes in staffing and management affect hospitals on a daily basis. Our research doesn't even take into account the number of doctors' offices, walk in clinics, drug stores, medical device distributors that depend on the dollars generated by the sick and those trying to avoid being sick.
Our best estimate is that hospitals generate over one billion dollars in fifteen Western Kentucky counties. Those dollars come from private and group insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and private pay patients.
West Kentucky Journal researched seventeen hospitals from Hopkinsville to Paducah. Hospitals defined as "rural" are the smallest in the region - ranging from 25 to 105 beds. Urban hospitals beds ranged from 135 to 320 beds.
Information from a report on American hospitals issued annually by US News and World Report formed the basis of this article. As such, the data collected may be a few years out of date. Where we could update from available information, we did.
Numbers are estimates only and are not accurate to the last person or penny. Changing demands, changing staffing create changing environments in the delivery of medical care.
Rural hospitals included (1) Trigg County (2) Caldwell County (3) Livingston County (4) Union County (5) Crittenden County (6) Logan (7) Marshall County and (8) Muhlenberg County.
These counties collectively had an operational platform of (1) 215 doctors (2) 322 nurses and (3) 331 beds. Some 71,000 patients visited the Emergency Rooms. Out of those numbers saw 9,000 admissions to the hospitals.
Cost of doctors, nurses, staff, and general operations are estimated at over $335,000,000.
Hospital by Hospital -
Trigg County: Trigg County Hospital, Cadiz, http://www.trigghospital.org/
25 beds, 4,000 patients treated, 400 admitted, 35 nurses, 20 doctors.
Caldwell County: Caldwell County Medical Center, Princeton, http://caldwellmedical.com/
25 beds, 9,000 patients treated, 500 admitted, 22 nurses, 29 doctors
Livingston County: Livingston Hospital and Services, Salem http://www.lhhs.org/
25 beds, 5,000 patients treated, 900 admitted, 30 nurses, 9 doctors
Union County: Methodist Hospital, Morganfield http://www.methodisthospital.net/
25 beds, 8,000 patients treated, 700 admitted, 34 nurses, 12 doctors
Muhlenberg County: Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, Greenville,
http://www.owensborohealth.org/locations/muhlenberg-community-hospital/ 105 beds, 15,000 patients treated, 3000 admitted, 113 nurses, 57 doctors
Crittenden County: Crittenden County Hospital, Marion, http://www.crittenden-health.org/ 48 beds, 4,000 patients treated, 1500 admitted, 35 nurses, 17 doctors
Logan County: Logan Memorial Hospital, Russelville, http://www.loganmemorial.com 53 beds, 17,000 patients treated, 1000 admitted, 64 nurses, 27 doctors
Marshall County: Marshall County Hospital, Benton, http://www.marshallcountyhospital.org/ 25 beds, 9,000 patients treated, 1000 admitted, 39 nurses, 44 doctors
Rural hospitals total 331 beds, serve 71,000 patients yearly, admit 9,000, employ 372 nurses and 215 doctors.
In addition to nurses and doctors, support staff - lab techs, food services, maintenance add hundreds of jobs. No hard data on small hospital support staffing. is available for the hospitals listed here, it is estimated that a 25 bed hospital employs at least 150 people.
"Urban" hospitals are those defined as having over 105 beds. While recognizing the arbitrary choice and knowing that calling all of those listed below "urban" may be overly ambitious, we still felt it necessary to look at hospitals that serve larger with populations.
Graves County: Jackson Purchase Medical Center, Mayfield http://www.jacksonpurchase.com/ 227 beds, 40,000 patients treated, 4000 admitted, 149 nurses, 46 doctors
Henderson County: Henderson County Community Hospital, Henderson, http://www.hendersoncchospital.com 136 beds, 30,000 patients treated, 4,000 admitted, 221 nurses, 94 doctors
Hopkins County: Madisonville Baptist Health, Madisonville, https://www.baptisthealth.com 192 beds, 33,000 patients treated, 2000 admitted, 330 nurses, 88 doctors
Mercy Health - Lourdes, Paducah, https://www.mercy.com/paducah 280 beds, 40,000 patients treated, 10,000 admitted, 319 nurses, 195 doctors
Baptist Health - Paducah https://www.baptisthealth.com 320 beds, 40,000 patients treated, 4,000 admitted, 442 nurses, 181 doctors
Calloway County: Murray-Calloway County Hospital, Murray, http://www.murrayhospital.org/ 297 beds, 20,000 patients treated, 2000 admitted, 252 nurses, 91 doctors
Christian County: Jennie Stuart Memorial Hospital, Hopkinsville, http://www.jsmc.org/ 139 beds, 35,000 patients treated, 6000 admitted, 247 nurses, 63 doctor
Urban hospital in the area have a total of1541 beds, treating 238,000 patients, admitting 32,000, employing 1960 nurses and 758 doctors. It is estimated by www.Quora.com that a 250 bed hospital employs a staff of 1500- 2000.
Western Kentucky hospitals offer 1872 beds, treat 309,000 patients, admit 41,000 and employ 2291 nurses, and 973 doctors.
While the debate over repeal of Obamacare may be stalled by the recent failure to pass even a skinny repeal of the mandate to have health insurance, it will return in full force at some point.
As the debate rages, it is worth remembering that not only patients and their families have a stake in the outcome, but all those working in the industry and the communities they serve.
One billion dollars in Western Kentucky translates to a lot of jobs and a lot of money.
For more information: American Hospital Directory
Primary Data Source: US & World News
Editor's Note: This story was written while the publisher was a "guest" of the Vanderbilt Regional Medical Center. The research is three years old but there haven't been big hospital expansions in the last three years. It felt like a good time to reopen it with the worry over enough beds with the Covid-19 pandemic spreading into our region.
Editor's Note: Hospitals who would like to comment and or correct the information cited in the article above are urged to contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org