The Herald Bulletin

May 8, 2013

Editorial: New hospital facilities reflect community commitment

The Herald Bulletin

— The health care industry in Madison County is important on several levels.

The industry provides preventive care, diagnosis, treatment and therapy for the local population, which unfortunately ranks consistently among the state’s least healthy in terms of substance abuse, obesity, exercise and other measures.

Health care is also one of the main engines driving the local economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 14 percent of the county’s workforce is dedicated to the health care and social services field, accounting for more than $330 million in annual salaries. That makes health care the largest sector of private employment in the county.

Brick-and-mortar growth taking place at Anderson’s two hospitals — St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital and Community Hospital Anderson — are reflective of the growing need locally for expanded medical care and emblematic of the health-care industry’s important position in the local economy.

Work has started on a $26 million surgery pavilion at St. Vincent Anderson, where crews will demolish the hospital’s old emergency department to clear the way for the surgery center. Hospital officials say the new pavilion will improve accessibility and privacy.

Funding for the project comes through the hospital’s affiliation with Ascension Health, with an important boost of $1.6 million from a capital campaign led by local philanthropists Jim and Marilyn Ault.

Meanwhile, Community Hospital Anderson recently broke ground on a new pavilion of its own. The $6.1 million, 33,000-square-foot facility will house oncology services, as well as an outpatient center and lab. The timetable for construction of the new facility is short, with the goal of beginning operations in February 2014.

Hospital officials say the new facility will give patients undergoing chemotherapy a better experience and will provide consolidated medical services under one roof. The new pavilion will also house physician offices and an infusion center for patients with chronic conditions.

The construction of these new facilities at St. Vincent Anderson and Community Hospital Anderson bodes well for a long-term commitment to Anderson by the hospitals and their affiliated health systems. The hospitals rank, respectively, first (St. Vincent Anderson) and second (Community Hospital Anderson) in number of employees by private businesses in the county.

So, what is healthy for the hospitals, generally speaking, is healthy for Madison County.