Home Features Special Section Driving Health Care: An Economic Engine For Michigan

Driving Health Care: An Economic Engine For Michigan

Nancy SchlichtingNancy SchlichtingBy Nancy Schlichting, CEO, Henry Ford Health System

Jobs and talent. Investing in the community. Innovation.

It is this combination that has kept the health care industry serving as one of Michigan’s economic engines during turbulent times.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association in 2011 published a study showing just how profoundly the health care industry affects Michigan’s economic development. The study shows that health care directly employs more than 546,000 Michigan residents. These employees earn more than $30 billion in wages, salaries and benefits, and pay $6.6 billion in federal, state and local taxes that help support other community needs, like public safety and schools. They further broke the numbers down to show that Michigan hospitals alone employ more than 219,000 people in this state, who earn more than $13 billion in wages, salaries and benefits and pay more than $2.7 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

Those are astounding numbers.

Henry Ford Health System directly and indirectly supports more than 37,500 jobs in Michigan. The system’s total impact on the Michigan economy was more than $5.8 billion in 2010. With more than 23,000 employees and more than 200 care delivery locations, Henry Ford is the largest provider of health care services in Michigan.

Beyond contributing financially, health care institutions also have an intellectual impact on the state. From doctors, to scientists, nurses, pharmacists and engineers, hospital employees are major problem solvers and innovators in our communities. Henry Ford has even developed the Henry Ford Innovation Institute that brings together physicians and engineers with creative thinkers — like students from Wayne State University, the College for Creative Studies and The Henry Ford  — to develop new products, devices and processes in medicine, and even new businesses and jobs.

Innovations like these will spill over into the community by fostering continuing education for employees and investing in the next generation of health care workers. A prime example is the Henry Ford Health System-based Henry Ford Early College program, which offers high school students interested in careers in health care the ability to earn a high school diploma and up to two years of college credits in partnership with Henry Ford Community College.

In addition to programs like the Innovation Institute, Detroit’s three anchor institutions — Henry Ford Health System, Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center — are working to create a stronger community in our city. Programs like the Live Midtown initiative are providing incentives to these three organizations’ employees to live in the midtown neighborhood.

Aside from enticing employees to become active in communities in which they work, hospitals also serve as an attractor for international patients seeking specialty care. In 2011 alone, the Henry Ford Medical Group treated nearly 1,300 patients from around the world.

As we continue our road to economic recovery, the health care industry will be an economic driver and incentive for attracting people from all around the world to live and do business in Michigan.

When I look at the opportunity in Michigan today, I’m reminded of other places I’ve lived and worked throughout the country, from New York City to Philadelphia, PA, and Akron, OH. In each of these cities there was one common thread: a strong emphasis on hospitals and health care institutions as a vital economic driver to the community’s development.

This is where we are now headed in Michigan. The future looks very bright.