On October 1, the Greater Phoenix Chamber (Chamber) hosted the first Phoenix Health Care Sector Partnership (PHCSP) meeting of the fiscal year. PHCSP is a collaborative effort of health care leaders, educational institutions, and community partners dedicated to improving the health of Arizonans, strengthening the health care system, and fostering expansions of health care companies that generate quality job opportunities.

Future of Health Care

Attendees heard from representatives from the University of Phoenix who shared a sneak peek of research on the future of health that they will be releasing in partnership with the Chamber .

Dr. Kathleen Winston, Dean for the College of Nursing, and Dr. Eve Krahe, Associate Dean for the College of Doctoral Studies, spoke to the anticipated growth in the health care sector and the pressing challenges of future nursing shortages.

According to Dr. Krahe, between 2018-2028, the health care sector growth is expected to hit 1.9 million jobs.

“Health care is the largest growing employment sector,” said Dr. Krahe. She shared that four of the top 20 fastest growing occupations in Arizona will be health care focused positions. Specifically, those four positions will include home health aides, medical assistants, registered nurses, and personal care aides.

In follow-up to these data points, Dr. Winston highlighted the acute need in Arizona for additional nurses.

According to Dr. Winston, there is a national nursing shortage that is the result of many compounding factors, including retiring nurses, an aging population, and challenges to educate, train, and retain new nurses.

“All of those things are contributing to the need for new health care professionals,” said Dr. Winston. “If we’re going to have a million retirees by 2030, we’re going to have to think about how we address that need.”

In addition to identifying key challenges presented by population growth and increased need for health care talent, University of Phoenix researchers are investigating and surveying employers and businesses to identify what skills are needed from future health care talent and where opportunities for advanced training exist in the industry.

The 2019 Health Care Report will be available online at the end of October. This report will serve as an update to the Phoenix Forward Health Care Industry Overview report published by the Chamber in 2017.

Behavioral Health Trends

Following that presentation, Peggy Chase, President & CEO of Terros Health, led a discussion centered around behavioral health issues and how the business community can assist in tackling this growing issue.

Chase kicked off the discussion by setting the stage for the state of mental and behavioral health in the country. She shared that in 2018, one in four adults in the U.S. experienced a mental health disorder.

“Addiction and mental health issues can lead to workplace issues,” said Chase.

Additionally, according to Chase, mental health is the top cause of disability in the nation, and up to 40% of sick leave taken by employees can be attributed to mental health.

“All of us have these issues in the workplace,” said Chase. “A big part of this is asking what we are doing to help our employees.”

Michelle Walker, Vice President of Finance & Administration, SSC Underground, and Andrew Erwin, Chief Operating Officer, Crisis Response Network, provided insights on how employees can tangibly support employee mental health in the workplace.

Walker was one of the founders of Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention and shared that “construction is the number one industry for death by suicide.” “Construction has a culture of safety. We’ve always focused on their physical safety and needed to make a shift and focus on mental safety as well.”

Walker emphasized the importance of focusing on employees to meet business objectives. And, Erwin echoed that importance.

“The biggest thing we’ve done is focused on our employees—that’s first and foremost,” said Erwin. “If our staff isn’t in a place where they can listen to others, then [as a crisis line] they aren’t able to answer those calls.”

Both leaders focused on the value of businesses integrating mental health into the day-to-day operations of an organization. From ensuring an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) encompasses mental health to cultivating a culture where employees feel empowered to take care of themselves physically and mentally.

“[The first step was] starting the conversation and building awareness about mental health with our workforce,” said Walker. “Your brain is a part of your body, and you need to treat it with respect.”

Crisis Response Network cultivates a workplace culture that is inclusive of mental health through its leadership team.

“We actually have a Chief Experience Officer. We have a C-Suite person dedicated to outreach to our community and our employees,” said Erwin.

He continued by encouraging other employers to make it clear that they support their employees in every way.

“What you need to do is signal to your employees that these types of conversations […] are built into the day-to-day operations of the business,” said Erwin.

It is clear from the experts who participated in the PHSCP meeting that there is a space for businesses to contribute to solving mental health challenges facing a community by providing support to employees and their families. We encourage you to join the charge!

Posted by Danny Imes