In Wichita, health care industry 'alive and well'

0 | Workforce

— One of every six people in Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, and Sumner counties works in health care or a related industry, according to a recent study by the Center for Economic Development and Business Research Wichita State University.

That makes health care the region’s second leading employer, trailing only manufacturing.

“The data, I think, show that for Wichita and for the surrounding area’s economies, health care is alive and well,” said Jon Rosell, executive director at the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, which commissioned the study.

The report, “Serving the Community Well: The Economic Impact of Wichita’s Health Care and Related Industries,” relied on 2007 data.

Health care led the region in employment growth from 2000 through 2007, increasing 18 percent. The industry’s payrolls put $2.5 billion in the Wichita-area economy in 2007.

The average health care worker’s wages increased 23.4 percent between 2000 and 2007.

“Health care, in a direct or indirect fashion, employs more than 72,000 people in the region,” Rosell said. “That’s second only to aviation manufacturing.”

Physicians account for about 14 percent of the workforce; hospitals, 25 percent; nursing homes and home health agencies, 17 percent.

The study found that the region’s overall health care costs were less than those in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Omaha, and Tulsa.

“This study tells us a couple things,” Rosell said. “The first is that we have a good thing going here, that, indeed, we are alive and doing well. The second is that that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue our focus on getting the most out of every health care dollar that’s spent in our community whether it be through increased efficiency or quality of care or any number of things.

The study found that in 2007, the region’s health care employers paid $203.7 million in local, county and state taxes.

“We shouldn’t lose sight of that, either,” Rosell said.