Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Search of a Cure

Flint may turn to casinos to cure its economic ills, but the The Economist points out that hospitals might be just what the doctor ordered. (Sorry for that tortured healthcare metaphor.)
All this is an extreme example of a growing phenomenon. After the 20th-century factory town, such as Flint, Michigan, comes the 21st-century hospital town. Rural hospitals are often the main employers in their communities. Even Flint is trying to re-position itself as a medical hub. But a select few cities have entered the era of the mega-hospital. The most dramatic are Rochester, a medium-sized city where Mayo has long been a star business, and Cleveland, Ohio, a rustbelt city that has seen its hospitals boom and one, the Cleveland Clinic, become a new economic force. Each hospital is a behemoth: Mayo's revenues in 2006 totalled $6.3 billion, Cleveland's $4.4 billion.


  1. The fact that rural hospitals as a main employer in this area has been proven with the 10 year old Genesys Health Park in Grand Blanc, which ended the existance of St. Joseph and Flint Osteopathic Hospitals. The FOH building is still being used in a minor fashion for the Genesys Health System, but the demolition of St. Joseph (grant it, the building was old) was a blow to the city. Mott College has constructed buildings on the site, but can a college education guarantee employment, especially in a poverty torn area such as Flint? The speculations continue...

  2. As a RN in a local community hospital (albeit in a affluent southern town) job openings are plentiful. However, the desire to take a poverty stricken rustbelt town and turn it into a "health care mecca" scares me. It means "jobs" - yes. But it will no doubt be at lower wages. You have to ask - who will pay the bills? What is the percentage of patients who carry non-government health insurance? Inner-city hospitals that receive primary medicaid or the uninsured are in trouble. The for profit hospitals will "cherry pick" the insured population and reimbursable services. University based, or teaching hospitals might be a better solution but even better - figure out a way to bring jobs with benefits first. Then give the big for profit's a little competition.

  3. Ahh, but paying someone a living wage in these times is not an easy task. As the last eight years have shown, many people are willing to vote for candidates who openly promise to undercut them financially. And unions -- for all their faults -- are under constant attack. This is a systematic problem, and I'm not confident it will get solved anytime soon.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at