Local hospital prepares for population boom

JOHNSTOWN, Ohio (WCMH) — Licking County’s largest healthcare provider is reacting to Intel’s announcement that it will create thousands of new jobs in the area.

Licking Memorial Health CEO Robert Montagnese said he and his team have previously discussed how to meet the rapidly changing needs of a growing community during a pandemic. They learned on Friday of Intel’s plans to build two huge manufacturing plants in a northwest part of the county.

“We’re seeing an aging population, we’re seeing volumes in most facilities are very large, especially with inpatient needs,” Montagnese said. “So I think those conversations were already happening, but they’re just going to be kind of accelerated and amplified now with this, this announcement.”

According to Intel, the “mega-fab” site will create approximately 3,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs.

Intel hasn’t innovated at its thousand-acre site, and Montagnese predicts the greatest need in Licking County will be for primary care physicians.

“I think it will be essential to make sure there is enough for all the people who move in,” he said.

According to County Health Rankings, an initiative of the University of Wisconsin’s Institute of Population Health, there were 75 primary care physicians in Licking County in 2018, based on the most recent federal data available. The data shows a ratio of one primary care physician to 2,430 people, which is lower than the Ohio average of one to 1,303 and the national average of one to 1,319.

“For many years, a lot of people have gone into subspecialties,” Monganese said. “Trying to incentivize and reward primary care is something we need to do, really, as an industry across the country, not just here.”

Montagnese said he was also in talks with local educators to encourage students to pursue health care careers.

“We’re going to have to rely on many colleges and technical schools in the region to facilitate not only the production of engineers who will work at Intel, potentially, but to continue to produce the nurses, the X-ray technicians, the technicians laboratory workers, pharmacists so that we can staff and support hospitals and health systems,” he said.

Previous Huntsville's Population Boom Leads to Housing Demand City Can't Yet Meet | News
Next Interesting Facts About the Historic District of Columbus