Healthcare generates billions in economic activity in Virginia while many hospitals struggle

Hospitals and health systems in Virginia generate approximately $60 billion annually in positive economic activity even as about a third of the state's rural hospitals operate in the red, according to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

The figures, which come from the VHHA's 2023 "Annual Report on Community Benefit" and the 2023 "Virginia Rural Hospital Report," refer to data up to and including 2021 and also highlight $3.1 billion in community support.

While nearly one-third of the state's 28 rural hospitals operated in the red in 2020, more than a quarter of them also had negative operating margins (in 2021), the report noted.

"Rural hospitals are experiencing these challenges as the national hospital sector continues to deal with the impact of COVID-related revenue losses, lower patient volumes, substantial cost increases, and staffing shortages," VHHA said.

Virginia hospitals directly employ 120,900 people, accounting for $11.3 billion in wages and benefits, and support 242,000 additional skilled jobs in the state.

"Our hospitals will continue to be beacons of hope to people in need," VHHA President and CEO Sean Connaughton said in a statement. "But we cannot ignore the data telling us clearly that more must be done to support hospitals, including those serving rural communities, through the financial and workforce challenges they continue to face because hospitals are essential to public health and integral to a vital society."

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