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Area businesses see growth related to health care industry

Articles | Sunday, March 13th, 2016

The Times Tribune
Source: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/area-businesses-see-growth-related-to-health-care-industry-1.2016895

The health care industry is not only the fastest growing job sector in the workforce, but it also is important for area ancillary businesses that create jobs.

Ancillary businesses include Maximus, a leading operator of government health and human service programs that employs more than 700 at its facilities in Jenkins Twp. and Moosic.

Employees are dedicated to serving government health programs such as the Affordable Care Act and Medicare and there are plans to hire more people, said Lisa Miles, senior vice president of corporate communications and investor relations for Maximus.

Maximus employees seated Maggie Faller, Andrea Campbell and Linda Garibaycv31maximusWarren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

Maximus emp;loyees seated Maggie Faller, Andrea Campbell and Linda Garibaycv31maximusWarren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

“We are expecting to increase our local staffing levels in support of these programs,” Ms. Miles said. “Maximus continues to experience growth in its core health services business lines and revenue in our health business grew 22 percent last year to $1.1 billion.”

The health care sector also provides a boost for Dallas-based Metz Culinary Management that runs the food service program at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. Metz employees provide food for patients, the cafeteria, visitors and staff, and all special events at the hospital.

About 82 employees work in the kitchen at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and another 15 to 20 work in the hospital’s three retail operations, said Michael Turak, Metz Culinary Management general manager at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

Metz employees provide food in other Commonwealth Health facilities such as Choices and First Hospital in Kingston, he said. Having jobs in the health care sector allows Metz to hire more executive chefs and other staff, he said.

Maximus employeees process data at the Jenkins Twp facilitycv31maximusp2Warren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

Maximus employeees process data at the Jenkins Twp facilitycv31maximusp2Warren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

Another ancillary business is Benco Dental, which employs about 400 at its headquarters and distribution center in Jenkins Twp., said George Rable, vice president of culture and people and Rebecca Clouse-Mickey, talent manager.

Benco Dental is the largest independent, family-owned dental distributor in the United States serving more than 30,000 dentists across the country. In all, the business employs about 1,400 people.

Benco Dental offers a wide assortment of careers.

That includes sales and service representatives, a finance team, human resources and customer service employees as well as unique careers such as upholsterers for dental chairs. More than 80 people work in the information technology department, they said, and about 120 associates in the call center work with customers across the country.

Benco Dental also employs interior designers, architects, a catering staff in Kitty’s Kitchen, videographers, graphic designers, a travel and events team that annually plan a sales forum off site for nearly 800 people as well as other regional and national corporate events. Internships and entry level jobs are available as well as positions for people with advanced degrees, according to the company.

“We have a wide variety of people with a vast array of skills in one building,” Mr. Rable said.

In addition to the health care industry being important for ancillary businesses, it also leads to a number of other ripple effects.

When the area’s major health care giants Geisinger Health System and Commonwealth Health do expansions, that brings work to trade unions such as the Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters Local 645, said Northeast Coordinator Drew Simpson.

A recent project for the carpenters was the two-year, $97.1 million expansion at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton. The project brought high-paying jobs to about 100 carpenters, Mr. Simpson said.

The carpenters’ union covers 17 counties in Northeast Pennsylvania and has been successful with getting other contracts with Geisinger Health System and also has done work with Commonwealth Health.

“One of the major sectors we look at is the health care sector and in our area, we’ve been very successful in putting a lot of our carpenters to work,” he said.

Geisinger has invested millions of dollars in developments in Luzerne County last year and whenever there is an expansion, that creates economic investment in the community, said Frank Trembulak, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Geisinger Health System.

The development of that investment creates job opportunities to build facilities and employment then follows to operate the programs within the facilities, he said.

A recent report by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania indicates Geisinger Health System has an annual $8.9 billion impact on the local, regional and Pennsylvania economy.

As a major employer of more than 23,500 people and through the ripple effect of Pennsylvania suppliers and other businesses, Geisinger Health System supports more than 40,000 jobs in state through direct employment and ripple effect job creation.

“Our ripple effects and our economic impact on communities overall is significant,” Mr. Trembulak said.

Contact the writer: dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com