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Health care helps drive W.Va. economy, report says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A report commissioned by WVU Healthcare shows the medical industry is a key driver in West Virginia's economy, and one that will grow through 2017.

The report released Friday in Charleston says WVU Healthcare facilities, West Virginia University's health schools and West Virginia United Health System hospitals collectively supported 12,200 jobs last year, and that nearly 1,100 could be added in the next five years.

The report, produced by Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Tripp Umbach, says those organizations now have a combined direct impact of $2.6 billion a year on the state's economy. By 2017, it says, that figure should grow by about $500 million.

"Improving the health of West Virginians and eliminating health disparities is at the heart of our land-grant mission," said WVU President Jim Clements. "Based on this report, it's clear that we are providing trained health-care professionals, quality medical services, groundbreaking research and economic opportunity to the people of West Virginia."

Direct economic impact includes such things as capital expenses, the purchases of goods and services, and spending by staff, patients and visitors.

The report says that when indirect impacts are factored in, the numbers jump to nearly 21,000 full-time-equivalent jobs in 2012 and an economic impact of more than $5.4 billion.

WVU Healthcare, in Morgantown, has the single largest economic impact, the report says, with $2.1 billion and more than 7,000 employees.

Camden Clark Medical Center, in Parkersburg, follows, with an economic impact of $988 million. The report estimates United Hospital Center, in Clarksburg, as having an $876 million impact and puts the impact of WVU Hospitals-East, in Martinsburg and Ranson, at $568 million.

The report also considered University Health Associates, University Physicians of Charleston and WVU Health Sciences, which includes the schools of dentistry, nursing, medicine, pharmacy and public health.


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