PeaceHealth poised to help community grow

Medical center adding good-paying jobs, partnering on bioscience academy





• A state forecast projects that Southwest Washington health care employers will add 2.1 percent more jobs in 2012.

• Evergreen Public Schools will move forward on construction of the Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School, slated to open in 2013.

• The U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of federal health care reform.

photoClick on graphic to enlarge.

With the current unemployment rate of Clark County near 11 percent, the promise of new health care jobs couldn’t come at a better time.

Enter PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and the PeaceHealth system’s new shared services center. With 27 of the 100 best-paying jobs in Clark County related to health care, the opportunities to provide for the community and for families in need of medical care has never been greater.

PeaceHealth Southwest — formerly Southwest Washington Medical Center — has historically been one of the top employers in Clark County. With the opening of the new Shared Services Center this year, PeaceHealth will no doubt continue to be a stabilizing factor in an otherwise tumultuous economy.

With a relatively low turnover rate of 8.2 percent in the last 12 months for all employees and 7.92 percent for nursing, the hospital’s increase in service lines has created thousands of job opportunities over the last five years. There were 3,006 new hires from 2006-2010. In 2011, PeaceHealth Southwest hired 543 new employees through September. The Shared Services Center will provide over 700 job opportunities over the next decade in areas such as accounting, information technology, health information management and patient financial services.

PeaceHealth Southwest’s partnership with the community is not limited to job opportunities. The hospital also serves as a training ground for local colleges, universities and employment programs such as the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council.

The hospital has drawn from a great pool of talent to hire the best nursing, diagnostic imaging, medical records, pharmacy and family medicine residency program graduates to care for the Clark County community at large.

PeaceHealth works with military veterans as well, through programs such as the Army Employer Partnership, to place highly skilled medical professionals as they transition from active duty to civilian employment.

PeaceHealth Southwest has also been very aware of the need to provide training programs specific to specialty nursing areas (emergency department, critical care and the operating room). Residency programs have been established to successfully prepare newly graduated nurses to enter into these difficult-to-fill positions. The average age of a nurse in these areas is 44.

The high quality and length of these programs, which last six months for the emergency department and up to 11 months for the operating room, has drawn nurses from local colleges and universities (Clark College, Washington State University Vancouver, University of Portland, OHSU, Linfield) and also nationally (Johns Hopkins, Loma Linda, Clemson, and Duke).

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and Evergreen Public Schools recently broke ground on the health and bioscience academy, a small high school with a curriculum focused on bioscience and health care that will provide students with opportunities for hands-on educational experiences.

The academy is intended to prepare local students for high-demand, living-wage jobs in the fastest-growing industry in the United States. Ten of the 20 fastest-growing occupations are health care-related, and health care is one of the largest employment sectors, providing 14.3 million jobs. Health care is expected to generate 3.2 million new jobs between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry, largely in response to rapid growth in the elderly population.

We hope that the academy will provide health care services for local residents, strengthen the community by bolstering the tax base, and ensure that Vancouver and Clark County are able to meet the challenges presented by the aging of the population.