Health Care Moving To West Michigan Forefront

February 12, 2007
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This month marks the first anniversary of Health Quarterly, a Grand Rapids Business Journal publication designed to provide more in-depth reporting on all aspects of health care and life sciences businesses, from hospitals to manufactured devices used therein. In the past year the reporting staff has covered surgery centers and robotic surgery, workplace health initiatives and alternative medicine, the impact of U.S. immigration restrictions on the research community, and every type of health-related insurance plan from malpractice to universal.

We have been pleased to introduce Dr. Paul Farr, of Grand River Gastroenterology and president of the Michigan State Medical Society, and Dr. Susan Sevensma, the first female chief of staff at any Grand Rapids hospital (she is affiliated with Metro Health) and president-elect of the Michigan Osteopathic Association, as well as Dr. Marsha Rappley, the newly named dean of the Michigan State University medical school.

Direct employment in health care has surpassed the automotive manufacturing and agriculture industries in Michigan. The Michigan State Medical Society anticipates the state will see 100,000 new health care jobs by 2015. Those numbers do not include the life sciences industries, the tech support industries, or the evolving medical manufacturing businesses. Additional professional jobs are being created in regional law firms, accounting firms and insurance companies as expertise in those “new” areas becomes necessary to support the “medical” community. Security services and security technology are rapidly growing needs.

Education and the necessity for continuing education also are having — and will continue to have — great impact in West Michigan. Even as area colleges and universities increase such opportunities, there are greater needs in the teaching ranks. This is especially obvious for the nursing professions, as 2006 ended with a student demand that outstripped available classes due to lack of instructors.

Expectations for 2007 are topped by the continued phases of the Michigan State University medical school move to Grand Rapids. The physician faculty associated with the advent of the medical school also will serve the Van Andel Institute with greater opportunities for physician/researchers.

The expansion of medical specialties, centers and education institutions also require bricks and mortar. The private developments along the “Medical Mile” on Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids included in 2006 the largest office development since the construction of Bridgewater Place. And readers can bet with confidence it is only the first of such developments.

Perhaps it was said best here one year ago:

This quarterly publication supplements the weekly reporting effort of the Grand Rapids Business Journal staff, providing greater depth on the issues now very apparently becoming the single most important economic engine in Michigan. Such news will continue to be a focus for reporting in GRBJ, and Health Quarterly will reach beyond the headlines to introduce the players, the issues and the economic impact.

— Carole Valade

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