SALT LAKE CITY – Nonprofit community health centers add hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to Utah’s economy each year, according to a recent study.
Alan Pruhs, executive director of the Association for Utah Community Health, says the economic impact study shows 40 clinics operating throughout Utah created more than 800 full-time jobs and added more than $140 million to the state’s economy last year.
“By virtue of being nonprofit health care providers who are mission-driven and focused on creating access for underserved populations, it’s oftentimes forgotten that we’re also job creators, and providers of goods and services in local communities,” he explains.
Pruhs adds that the health clinics also generated more than $17 million in tax revenue last year and created more than 500 jobs in other industries.
He says the clinics provided care for more than 120,000 patients in 2013, many of whom are uninsured, low-income or on Medicaid.
Lisa Nichols is executive director of Midtown Community Health Center, which operates several clinics in Northern Utah. She says in addition to providing an economic boost, the clinics provide vital medical care for people who may otherwise go without.
“Most of our patients are the working poor,” she says. “Ninety-eight percent of them are living below federal poverty levels. Sixty-four percent of them are uninsured. About 60 percent of them speak a language other than English.
“They’re individuals who, for whatever reason, face barriers when accessing other health-care systems.”
Nichols adds the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped some patients get insured, and also broadened their access to health care in general.