Greater Akron Health Care Gives Booster Shot to Economy
Whether it’s for nationally recognized expertise and treatments or the sheer volume of employees and their related economic impact, Greater Akron’s medical and research facilities are key components of this thriving community.
Akron General Health System and Summa Health System call the city home, and both employ thousands of health professionals ranging from physicians to to nurses to community-outreach specialists.
Akron Children’s Hospital, the largest pediatric-care provider in Northeast Ohio, serves 450,000 patients each year and performs more pediatric surgeries than any other hospital in the region. At its 253-bed main facility in downtown Akron and 40 related locations in the region, the hospital focuses on more than 30 areas of specialized medicine and surgery staffed by 600 medical workers. A major health asset for the region is the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, a collaboration among four public universities, community pharmacies, two boards of health and area teaching hospitals that offer graduate-level research and degree opportunities.
Summa Health has focused on a fully integrated delivery system in which hospitals and health plans tie in with technology and physicians, says Tom Strauss, president and CEO.
“We’ve seen a very rapid expansion in the last three years that really brings all those elements of our strategic plan together,” Strauss says. “But we’re really excited about the culture we’ve created between the way we care for patients and also for each other, which we think makes a difference for the people who work here at Summa.”
The provider has moved into the joint-venture hospital arena and is opening up specialty centers within its main campus and elsewhere to meet specific community needs.
Summa and Akron General are key partners in Akron's efforts to establish the region as a major center of bioscience innovation.
At Akron General, the push remains strong for general health and wellness, so the system continues to expand its lifestyle centers within the community, says Jim Gosky, director of media and public relations.
“We are consistently being recognized for our fitness centers, and the people here have really made them popular,” Gosky says. “In summer 2009, we opened an emergency center at one site, so we were able to expand the services at that campus. That’s something we’re looking at doing at our centers in growing population areas, because it’s a way we can add different services in communities without acquiring or merging with other hospitals.”
Northeastern Ohio Universities' researchers also are spinning out ideas from the lab into the commercial realm, which is helping to grow the area’s emerging biotech industry as well, says Dr. Walter Horton, vice president of research and also associate dean of graduate studies at the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.
The school attracted more than $10 million in new research funding in 2008 for such efforts as a study on how the brain functions in various neurodegenerative diseases and for programs such as the BeST Center, which is establishing a model for a community-based treatment program for schizophrenia.
“We are a very active core of what’s going on around here in terms of biomedical research and commercialization,” Horton says. “There’s a lot of activity, and it’s all happening right here in Akron.”