From a local, economic-development standpoint, Arizona’s health care sector has all the right ingredients: high-wage jobs, a highly educated workforce and a growing impact on the state’s economy. In terms of the quality of its skilled workforce, Arizona is ranked 14th by CNBC. Arizona is also home to some health care giants. Our hospital system alone employs more than 80,000 people and contributes $11.5 billion to the gross state product. Without a doubt, the health care industry helped stabilize our economy during the most recent economic recession.
But it’s the human impact that matters most. Our hospitals and research facilities are constantly striving for new innovations that lead to improvements in our daily lives.
And lately, Arizona is on a roll in that respect, specifically in the area of cancer treatment. Recent health care developments at just a few of Greater Phoenix’s innovative hospitals include:
- Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Western Regional Medical Center: This Goodyear hospital became the first in the Southwest and one of six hospitals in the nation to earn the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Lung Cancer Certification. The seal is a symbol of quality that affirms the hospital’s compliance with national disease-specific standards and requirements.
- The University of Arizona Cancer Center: In August, the U of A Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center opened its doors and the collaboration became the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center headquartered in Arizona. The $100 million facility on the Downtown Biomedical Campus in Phoenix will treat about 60,000 patients a year and create hundreds of biomedical jobs.
- Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic in Phoenix is introducing its Proton Beam Therapy Program available to patients next spring. It’s an advancement over traditional radiotherapy by using spot scanning to deposit streams of protons back and forth through a tumor, targeting the tumor and sparing healthy tissue. The hospital is one of only a few facilities in the nation to offer the technique. Cancer patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital will have access to this cutting-edge radiation therapy in collaboration with Mayo Clinic.
With health care close to 20 percent of Arizona’s economy, my diagnosis is that this growing sector will continue to be a powerful engine for Arizona.
-Jennifer Mellor is vice president of economic development at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.