When Volkswagen decided in 2008 to open an assembly plant in Chattanooga, the availability of quality health care for the 2,000 employees who would work there was a major consideration.
“The delivery of health care is vital to the economic development of our community because employers will not move to communities without the availability of quality medical care, and major employers will not move to a community without the availability of really advanced medical care,” says Joseph Winick, senior vice president, planning and business development at Erlanger Health System. “I won’t say that Erlanger was the only factor in Volkswagen’s location decision, but it was a major factor. That of course had a trickle effect to all the suppliers and other companies following Volkswagen’s trail, adding between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs to the marketplace.”
In fact, Erlanger opened a 32,000-square-foot health-care center on the Volkswagen campus to provide primary-care services to employees and their families. Erlanger Health System – the seventh-largest public health system in the United States – consists of five hospitals, four based in Chattanooga: Erlanger Baroness Hospital, a University of Tennessee teaching hospital; Children’s Hospital at Erlanger; Erlanger East Hospital; and Erlanger North Hospital. (A fifth is Erlanger Bledsoe Hospital in Pikeville, TN.)
Erlanger, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) Memorial and Parkridge East Hospitals are among the many high-quality health systems with a presence in the region that provide comprehensive quality care in a number of specialties.
Growing Stronger Every Day
CHI Memorial dedicated the Guerry Heart and Vascular Center in June 2014. The center boasts 300,000 square feet of space including a seven-story patient tower, 96 patient rooms, seven cardiac catheterization rooms, a short-stay unit and even a chapel and healing garden.
The center is also home to the Chattanooga Heart Institute where 23 board-certified cardiologists are part of the region’s largest diagnostic, treatment, research and rehabilitation center dedicated solely to cardiovascular care, says Karen Long, marketing communications specialist
for CHI Memorial.
In 2014, Parkridge East Hospital’s marked its 40th anniversary in Chattanooga – and as a leader in obstetrical care. A surgical team at Parkridge performed Chattanooga’s first single-site robotic hysterectomy, a less invasive surgery that leaves the patient with minimal scarring.
Erlanger Baroness is undergoing a $35 million expansion, including additions to the orthopedic and surgery facilities and a new children’s ambulatory facility. The Erlanger East campus is planning a $50 million expansion, which will take what was predominantly a women’s hospital “and turn it into an entire lifestyle campus with a community hospital based there and all the necessary services to drive and improve health status in the community,” Winick says.
Advanced Medicine Close to Home
“We’re not just an academic medical center. We provide some leading-edge services here,” he says. “In the last year, we actually established new best practices worldwide in stroke care, and Erlanger is the second-largest provider of interventional radiology in stroke services
in the United States.”
Winick also notes that as the second largest employer in Chattanooga, Erlanger’s economic footprint tops $3 billion, and implementation of a new $100 million electronic medical record system will add another 100 or so jobs.
“Our average annual compensation rate, excluding physicians, is about $50,000, a strong pay grade and level of educational experience we’re bringing into the community which is also contributing to the city’s economy,” Winick says.