To Arizona's Unsung Superheroes / by Joe Furia

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Earlier this month, we celebrated National Hospitals Week (May 6-12). Here at AzHHA, we’re never done recognizing Arizona’s hospitals and healthcare professionals for the important work they do.

Hospitals play a vital, outsized role in Arizona communities; they’re not only essential to the health and well-being of Arizona people, patients and families – they are also massive engines of job creation and economic growth. Statewide, hospitals are directly and indirectly responsible for nearly 180,000 full-time jobs and $24 billion in economic impact.

Arizona’s hospitals and healthcare systems are hubs of innovation, collaboration and compassion – always striving to stay on the cutting edge of patient care. Of course, we cannot celebrate the success and contributions of our hospitals without recognizing the women and men who make them great.

We’ve all heard the phrase “not all superheroes wear capes.” It’s true: some of the best ones I’ve met wear scrubs, stethoscopes, white coats, surgical masks, caps, gloves and a hospital name badge. There are roughly 82,000 hospital personnel in Arizona – including physicians, nurses, therapists, surgeons, technicians, administrators, clerical staff, food service workers, IT, pharmacy staff and more. Each and every hospital employee is an indispensable part of our ability to provide the services and care Arizona communities need.

The dedication of these professionals to patient safety and public health extends beyond their hospitals’ walls and hectic work schedules. In a career where caring for people is a calling, the commitment to fighting for healthy patients and better healthcare never clocks out.

In fact, when I think back on Arizona’s biggest legislative victories and policy advances over the last few years, these hospital and healthcare personnel have been on the front lines. They stood with us at the State Capitol when we fought for the successful restoration of Arizona’s Medicaid program in 2013 and again in 2017 as we rallied Congress to preserve Medicaid amid repeated Affordable Care Act repeal-and-replace efforts. Today, more Arizonans have access to affordable healthcare because these professionals did what they do best: they fought for patients.

National Hospitals Week has come and gone, but the time is always right to pay respect and gratitude to the people who make our hospitals and healthcare industry exceptional. As we move forward on key priorities, their support and advocacy will be instrumental to our continued success.

To the unsung superheroes of Arizona’s hospitals and health systems: thank you for your around-the-clock commitment to making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation.