Health First’s Economic Impact in Brevard County Approaches $900 Million in Recent Report
By Space Coast Daily // November 1, 2023
Health First remains a nationally recognized employer of choice – and a major economic engine on the Space Coast.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – What is Health First best known for? If that question were posed to any random subset of Brevard County residents, the answers would be fairly predictable.
“Our hospital system.”
“It’s where my kids were born.”
“I work out at Pro-Health and Fitness.”
“I beat cancer at Health First.”
“It’s where I work.”
Indeed, Health First is one of the largest employers on the Space Coast, with more than 9,500 associates and hundreds of additional loyal and committed volunteers.
But Health First is also a major economic engine in Brevard County – generating an economic impact to the region approaching $900 million in 2022 alone.
According to the American Hospital Association, the role hospitals and health systems have played in providing health care to their communities — though vital — is only part of the story. With the COVID-19 pandemic severely affecting local economies across the U.S. over the last three years, hospitals and health systems have been economic pillars that create jobs and purchase goods and services from others in their community.
In 2020, for instance, U.S. hospitals:
■ Employed 6.3 million individuals.
■ Purchased more than $1.1 trillion in goods and services from other businesses.
Those goods and services hospitals, in turn, purchase from other businesses create additional economic value for the community – a “ripple effect” of sorts – equating to nearly two additional jobs supported by each hospital job. Moreover, every dollar spent by a hospital supports $2.30 of additional business activity.
Here in Brevard County, Health First is dedicated to improving the wellness and health of our entire community, while staying true to its not-for-profit mission.
“As a non-profit healthcare system, we are working every day to improve wellness, strengthen the quality of life for every Space Coast resident, and assist those in our community who are underserved,” said Kent Smith, Health First Board Chairman and Interim CEO. “Our associates, our volunteers, all of us at Health First, will always put our community – our neighbors, our families, our visitors – first.”
Powerful Economic Engine and Employer of Choice
As the largest health system in Brevard County – and among the top two or three employers on the Space Coast, Health First contributed over $869 million to the local economy in 2022 – including $82 million in capital improvements (construction projects, repairs and facility improvements.)
Of course, a significant part of that $869 million encompasses employee salaries – totaling more than $664 million in 2022.
As the leading non-governmental employer in Brevard County, Health First recognizes the value all our associates provide, and in 2021, Health First did so in a tangible way by increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour across the organization.
Health First’s commitment to its associates and community has not gone unnoticed. In fact, for the second straight year Health First was named among “America’s Best Large Employers” for 2023 by Forbes.
Jumping nearly 250 spots – from 407 to 159 – Health First was one of only three hospitals or healthcare systems in Florida named to the list and one of only 35 hospital or healthcare systems nationally named to the list. Additionally, Health First is one of only 18 Florida-based companies named to the list.
The evaluation was based on direct and indirect recommendations from employees that were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family. Employee evaluations also included other employers in their respective industries that stood out either positively or negatively.
Health First as a Customer
This past year, Health First bolstered Brevard businesses by purchasing products and services from local vendors – spending more than $82 million. An additional $4 million was paid in rent for real estate in Brevard County.
Partnerships with Purpose
To maximize our impact on the community, Health First aligns its efforts with the work of other local non-profit organizations – increasing access to superior wellness and health services for all Brevard County residents.
In 2022, we devoted nearly a half million dollars – $468,000 toward partnerships and grants to local not-for-profit organizations to address health needs in the community.
Additionally, the Health First Foundation provided more than $1.2 million to invest in innovative tools and advanced practice to produce superior outcomes for our patients.
“Research and surveys suggest that many people, even those who generously support nonprofits, underestimate the value their communities receive from the nonprofits in them. Most of everything Health First supports – from cutting-edge technologies to recruiting world-class providers to the Space Coast, to our partnerships with other nonprofits – has a measurable impact on Brevard County,” said Michael Seeley, President of the Health First Foundation.
“We have received so much support from our community. We only ask one more tiny thing – for everyone here to look around, see what a magnificent community they’ve helped make, and feel as proud of it as we do.”
Health First By The Numbers:
■ Total impact (in 2022): $869 million
■ Salaries: $664 million
■ Capital improvements: $82 million
■ Local purchases: $82 million
■ Charity care: $56 million
■ Sponsorship, grants and partnerships: $706,000