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Bowser: Healthcare critical to county growth

The following was published in the Cumberland Valley Business Journal

Based on 2014 census and projections, Cumberland County continues to be the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We attribute a significant amount of that growth to new residential apartments, condos, townhomes and single family developments throughout the county. In addition to new residential development, existing home sale prices remain strong and days on market remain low for existing dwellings. There are several attributing factors to these increases such as: quality of life; quality of our school systems; access to retail, healthcare, and employment; and of course our location and close proximity to major highways.

In 2015, the Cumberland County Commissioners approved the Economic Development Chapter of the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Within the plan, CAEDC will focus on the following key industries; tourism, manufacturing, food processing (Agribusiness), transportation and logistics, professional services, and healthcare and social assistance.

This month’s topic in the business journal is focused on healthcare in Cumberland Valley. The healthcare industry is Cumberland County’s second largest industry, with over 16,000 employees (comprising of 10% of the county’s total workforce) and approximately 900 establishments. Our notable hospitals in the Cumberland Valley include Holy Spirit (A Geissinger Affiliate), Carlisle Regional Medical Center, and Pinnacle Health Systems. We have several Urgent Care facilities throughout the county such as; AllBetterCare, Patient First, and Concentra Urgent Care, and other healthcare related businesses including; Select Medical, Vibra Healthcare, and Highmark Blue Shield that all have a headquarters or significant presence in Cumberland County.

The region is home to nationally recognized, first-class hospitals and health care facilities that provide a variety of emergency, inpatient, rehabilitation, therapeutic and at-home services. Thanks to a terrific transportation network, even in the Cumberland Valley’s most rural areas, quality health care is easily accessible.

Certainly, health and wellness are essential for the maintenance of a high quality of life, and here in the Cumberland Valley residents maintain healthy lifestyles by staying fit and active, indoors and outdoors, season after season. But when healthcare is needed, help isn’t far away.

Our health centers and hospitals are technically advanced and provide a range of services including:

Emergency assistance

Medical and surgical inpatient care

Ambulatory surgery

Oncology and cardiac services

Advanced surgery

Sophisticated diagnostic procedures

Psychiatric and substance abuse treatment

Children’s health services.

Whether it’s treatment at a facility or in the comfort of home, patients receive skilled care from trained, dedicated doctors and nurses. Cumberland Valley prides itself on the professional, compassionate treatment its healthcare facilities offer all residents, especially children, seniors and those who have been seriously injured or disabled.

Many working adults are responsible for the care of aging parents or relatives. In Cumberland County, healthcare options provide seniors not only with treatments, but also with help in maintaining comfort and a satisfying quality of life. A range of services assists older adults in enjoying their continued independence, paying for pharmaceuticals and receiving medical assistance when needed. Seniors may receive health services at their homes, healthcare facilities, assisted living residences or nursing homes.

Looking ahead

Looking at healthcare data, we still have growth potential to meet current and future market demand due to our continued population growth and aging population of baby boomers. What this means, is that we will continue to see growth and new construction of healthcare facilities, practices, and related business in Cumberland County in years to come that will create new sustainable paying jobs in our county. Based on market research from Penn State University, healthcare has the second highest percentage of earnings in Cumberland County at 13% of total wages compared to 10% of our total employment. What this means is that healthcare related jobs provide sustainable wages that are important to the continued growth of our overall economy. As we continue to see healthcare systems merge and expand operations in Cumberland Valley, CAEDC’s strategy is to support the market demand for a skilled workforce in those high demand jobs. Several of our colleges and universities have pivoted their focus to support this growing industry in the Cumberland Valley, in addition to the increased demand in the Commonwealth.

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