I never cease to marvel at the great medical care that is available all across our state from the teaching and research centers in Omaha and Lincoln to the state of the art hospitals in many of our rural communities.
These hospitals are not just good for the health of Nebraskans, they are good for the health of our state's economy.
I thought about this when I was at a ribbon cutting ceremony in McCook where they have added a new wing to the Community Health Center. The expansion was made possible through $17 million in low interest loans from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.
It did exactly what it was intended to do which was all about jobs, jobs, jobs. It put people to work now building the addition and will continue keeping people working well into the future staffing the hospital as it takes care of many citizens.
Moreover, the hospital will continue contributing to the economic well being of the area because that's what hospitals do all across Nebraska and throughout America.
Mary Wakefield, head of the Health Resources and Services Administration, once made an astute observation when she testified before a Senate committee.
She said that rural communities that have good access to health care can survive and grow. On the other hand, she said, communities that do not have good access to health care lose their ability to prosper. She said that every health care dollar spent locally recycles through the local economy one and a half times.
Health care provides 10 to 15 percent of the jobs in many rural counties. When the secondary benefits of those jobs are included, health care accounts for 15 to 20 percent of all jobs.
When industry and business consider location, health services are often one of the most important quality-of-life factors that influence their choice.
This is exactly what the doctor ordered to help what ails our weak economy. We need jobs now to get things back on track on projects like hospitals that will not only benefit our citizens but keep people working well into the future.
You know how the old expression goes, "if you have your health you have everything. If you lose your health you lose everything."
Thanks to forward-thinking Nebraskans who are proud of their communities and concerned about their citizens, we have everything; a healthy population and an economy that has maintained much of its health even during the recession.