History and Need for NOHSIC
There is hard data that indicates that Ohio is a state that is struggling to stay competitive with its workforce in a global and changing economy. In the past decade, Northeast Ohio has been in the bottom 25 percent of the country in per-capita income and employment—two key indicators of economic health. NorTech, a technology-based economic development organization in Northeast Ohio, reported that the region lost 23,735 high-tech jobs from 2000 through 2005, representing a loss of 12.1 percent of jobs, compared with an 8.7 percent loss nationwide.
Ohio is struggling on another front critical to workforce development: its educational attainment level ranks second to last among the most populous 15 states in the country. Many of the jobs that Ohio has lost to other states are due to the lack of a qualified, educated workforce to fill them. In healthcare, the lack of qualified workers has resulted in vacancies in every sector of direct patient care. Compounding this situation is a significant shortage of nursing school faculty to educate and prepare more people to fill nursing jobs. Given these conditions, an assertive effort is underway by all sectors in the region to improve Northeast Ohio’s economic and educational positions, and the healthcare industry is playing a pivotal role to make this happen. Healthcare is increasingly driving the region’s economy, and the industry has been instrumental in reshaping the industrial rustbelt image of the region to one of high technology, bioscience, medical and healthcare excellence.
Ohio Department of Aging, April 2006
According to a 2006 Economic Impact Study issued by The Center for Health Affairs, Northeast Ohio hospitals (and their related health care facilities) are among the largest employers; their economic impact on the region is estimated to be $15.5 billion, including a household earnings impact of $6.2 billion; and they employ more than 137,000 workers. During the first half of 2007, healthcare ventures attracted a record $244.3 million dollars to the region, establishing the region as a leader in the nation. Indeed the region is beginning to seriously tie its hopes for an economic recovery to the predicted continued growth of healthcare. This is supported by Cleveland’s plans to develop a medical mart in association with the new convention center; Akron’s development of a bio-medical corridor, and the global use of the region’s health systems to develop and beta-test medical equipment.
Despite the encouraging signs of growth within the healthcare industry, there is a serious shortage of qualified workers to fill many of the available jobs. According to the members of NOHSIC, there are over 3,000 job vacancies among their own health systems that are currently waiting to be filled with qualified employees. Areas within the healthcare field that are experiencing a serious shortage of qualified professionals are in nursing, medical practice, respiratory therapy, pharmacy, medical technology and radiology technology.
The Ohio Hospital Association predicts a 29 percent shortfall of almost 32,000 registered nurses by the year 2020.
The reasons for the shortage are many: aging healthcare workers and healthcare faculty are retiring; population growth is flat; there is competition for healthcare workers from around the globe; persons of color are under-represented in healthcare degree programs and jobs; and more. The Ohio Hospital Association has indicated that if the healthcare workforce shortages are not addressed, there will be serious consequences for the people and businesses of Northeast Ohio, as well as the regional economy:
- The opportunity to position Northeast Ohio as a nationally recognized center of healthcare excellence will be threatened.
- The cost of healthcare will rise which will undoubtedly translate into higher medical premiums for employers and their workers.
- An aging population will have an inadequate number of healthcare professionals to provide medical and healthcare services. According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, this situation will likely increase patients’ length of recovery from illness or surgery and consequently, their medical bills.
- The present and projected healthcare workforce shortages prompted a group of Northeast Ohio healthcare leaders and community stakeholders to meet to tackle the issue of workforce development. At a meeting held on September 14, 2006, representatives from Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth System, Southwest General Health Center, University Hospitals, Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Boards, Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Center for Health Affairs established the Northern Ohio Health Science and Innovation Coalition. In addition to addressing healthcare workforce development, the meeting was significant in that it was the first time that Northeast Ohio acute care institutions agreed to work not as competitors in the region, but as collaborators united around an issue that impacts the well-being of the region. Summa Health System later joined NOHSIC bringing healthcare representation from the southern part of the region to the organization. The Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area represents 21 percent of all high tech jobs in Ohio; and it has experienced some of the strongest growth in high tech and healthcare.