Jefferson Regional Medical Center Provides Job Backbone for Pine Bluff

by Luke Jones  on Monday, May. 20, 2013 12:00 am  

JRMC opened its doors in Pine Bluff in 1908 as Davis Hospital. Its revenue last year was $183 million.

Jefferson Regional Medical Center — Pine Bluff’s nonprofit hospital operated by Jefferson Hospital Association Inc. — is one of the major sources of jobs for an area that has suffered from loss of industry, plummeting population and spiking crime.

“It helps all of southeast Arkansas,” said Lou Ann Nisbett, president and CEO of the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County. “It’s a huge impact for our community.”

Nisbett said the only private employer in the area that comes close to JRMC is Tyson Foods Inc., which employs about 1,500. JRMC provides about 1,800 jobs.

A total of 20.6 percent of non-farming jobs in Jefferson County areg in health care; only the government provides more jobs at 25.1 percent, said JRMC President and CEO Walter Johnson. Average hourly wages are $24.22 at JRMC; the average for Pine Bluff is $14.10.

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Johnson said the population problems in the area have been a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

“The declining population has obviously had an effect on recruiting and retaining health care professionals, and on the number of patients that come to us for care,” he said. “However, JRMC hasn’t been affected significantly, partly because our aging population has counterbalanced the decline in population.”

South Arkansas, he said, historically has had difficulty in recruiting medical professionals who are willing to uproot themselves. At the same time, many are attracted to working at a smaller hospital in an area with great need.

“The situation doesn’t diminish the needs of the people who are here, and many physicians find it rewarding to work in a community like ours, where they don’t have the competition of a large city and they can practice true general medicine, treating all ages and all types of conditions,” Johnson said. “Interestingly enough, while the decline in population is projected to continue, there are actually pockets of south Arkansas in our service area that are projected to grow in population over the next few years.”

Besides its 125 independent physicians, JRMC employs 774 nurses, 99 professional support staff, 83 managers, 69 coordinators and supervisors, 262 clinical technicians, therapists and pharmacists and 534 clerical and support staff.

Financially, JRMC’s net patient revenue last year was $183 million, and gross revenue was about $685 million, Johnson said. Of that, $310 million represented inpatients, $330 million represented outpatients and $10 million represented other types of income.

“JRMC is also the sole community hospital and never turns anyone away because of inability to pay,” Johnson said. He said caring for uninsured or underinsured patients cost $16 million last year.



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