Awards & Events

Health Expo to Highlight Valley’s Medical Assets

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – There are plenty of quality health-care assets in the Mahoning Valley. But not all Valley residents are aware of their options, often choosing instead to travel to bigger cities like Pittsburgh or Cleveland for treatments.

But if those assets are better known throughout the area, the Youngstown Regional Chamber and local health-care providers believe, then the outflow can be curbed and patients can be treated closer to home.

And to highlight those options, the chamber has partnered with Mercy Health Youngstown, Steward Health Care and The Muransky Companies’ Southwoods Health to host the “Live Well, Be Well. Locally” health expo March 3 and 4 at the Covelli Centre.

Representatives of the organizations outlined plans for the event during a news conference at the chamber’s downtown Youngstown offices Wednesday morning.

The event focuses on what James Dignan, the chamber’s new president and CEO, describes as one of the Valley’s “key driver industries,” employing more than 23,000 locally.

“We all do things differently and we all have different expertise, but at the end of the day we’re all for delivering great health care here in the Valley,” Ed Muransky, CEO of Muransky Companies/Southwoods Health said.

The event originated at a meeting of the chamber’s executive board, on which Muransky and Mercy Health President and CEO Don Kline both serve, Muransky recalled. He had commented, and Kline agreed, that given the changes in the health-care sector, the chamber needed to educate the community about the quality of local health care and the availability of services in the area.

“The most important message is that health care can be delivered for almost everything in the Mahoning Valley,” said Dr. James Kravec, vice president and chief clinical officer for Mercy Health Youngstown. “Mercy Health, Southwoods and Steward health have a very wide range of services that we provide and so there’s very little reason to leave the Mahoning Valley for care.”

Dignan continued, “The idea actually came a little bit from when we did the oil and gas expo, and the offshoot of that was what else could we do? What are our driver industries here in the Valley?”

One objective also is to prevent traveling to other communities such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh for procedures Valley care providers maintain can be done here. Muransky estimated that 35% of the medical procedures Valley residents undergo are performed outside the area.

“Amazon did not move here, our steel mills are probably not coming back and you have to take a look at what’s in front of you. Health care is a huge opportunity over the next 15 years,” he said.

During that time span, the Valley’s 60-plus population is expected to double, and those people will need health care. If local providers can cut that 35% outmigration for services to 15% or 20%, “you now are talking about another 3,000 to 4,000 health-care jobs to provide those services,” positions that pay $40,00 or $50,000, he said.

“If you’re looking at an economic driver, you’re creating a [General Motors] Lordstown every three or four years, if we focus on this,” he remarked.

The two-day expo will feature about 100 local vendors and 30 speakers.

“There’s a little bit of everything,” Melissa Bennett, president of Northside Medical Center, said. Northside is one of the area hospitals Boston-based Steward Health purchased last year.

Presentations and exhibitors will focus not only on health care but also related topics such as elder care options, Medicare and Medicaid, preserving the next egg, power of attorney and living will, and preventative care and wellness, Bennett said. Primary care physicians as well as specialists will be on hand to answer questions at the expo, which is open to the public at no charge.

“We surveyed our communities, talked to key people and asked what topics are making you worry, what do you want to know about,” she said. “We came up with a list of topics and, and then each of us are working together to identify key speakers and subject matter experts that can offer that education at the expo.”

Dignan also sees the potential for similar events focusing on the Valley economic sectors. An event focusing on the petrochemical and plastics industry is already planned for this summer to explore regional developments in that sector, including a potential cracker plant in Belmont County and the potential for downstream activity.

“We don’t want all the gas to go in a pipeline and go to some other part of the state or another part of the country,” Dignan said. “We want that business and those secondary opportunities, the downstream opportunities, to stay here in the Valley.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.