To the editor:
Skiff Medical Center is a good example of something that is so vital a part of our immediate environment that it is easy to take for granted. Yet, its excellence is enormously important to our community and region.
Having a first-rate medical center close at hand is essential to the quality of life of every Jasper County resident. The presence in our community of a superb medical facility also makes Newton more competitive as it seeks the economic growth that is so important to the future of the city and region. It’s no secret that two of the factors that are of critical importance in corporate decision-making about site selection are the quality of a town’s schools and the ready availability of comprehensive, top-quality health care.
Consequently, it is no exaggeration to assert that Skiff’s excellence helps Newton achieve its dreams for tomorrow.
But there’s more to the story.
A 2013 survey by the Iowa Hospital Association documented that the Hawkeye State’s 118 community hospitals have an enormous economic impact. According to IHA, annually Iowa’s hospitals provide more than 71,000 jobs and pay in excess of $4 billion in salaries and benefits. That puts hospitals collectively among the largest non-agricultural employers. And that’s just direct employment.
When one adds in the additional jobs in communities across the state that exist because of hospital spending and the dollars spent by their employees, the IHA estimates that about just short of 130,000 jobs are tied directly or indirectly to the hospital industry. The overall economic impact on the state’s economy is calculated to be approximately $6 billion a year.
Here in Newton, Skiff generates about 350 jobs and adds nearly $27 million to the county’s economy, also according to the IHA report.
But the impact is even greater than that. Skiff employees support Newton and surrounding businesses to the tune of $6.8 million being spent on Main Street. Hospital employees pay taxes that support schools, roads, parks and other vital infrastructure. Again for Skiff, that’s $411,105 in just sales taxes.
But Skiff is more than jobs, income, retail sales and tax revenue. And it’s even more than the high quality health care that is provided there every hour of every day.
Think of the hundreds of employees who work at the hospital and what they bring to the community at our schools, churches and volunteer groups. Think of the many young professionals who come here to start a career at the hospital and stay because in a rural community, hospitals are still one of the best places to grow a career.
Think of how they build homes, start families, strengthen neighborhoods and put down roots. Think of how important — and challenging — that is for any community in Iowa in this time of rural “brain drain.”
There are many reasons to take pride in Skiff. It’s no exaggeration to assert that its success contributes mightily to the ability of our town and region to thrive. Not only is it vital to the health of people who live here and in surrounding counties, but it also contributes to the ability of Newton and nearby towns to prosper economically.
Skiff Medical Center President and CEO