Vital spotlight will shine on health care in Valley at expo

It hasn’t been all that long ago since residents of the Mahoning Valley who needed sophisticated surgeries or complex medical procedures performed would have been forced to travel to Cleveland, Pittsburgh or farther to get the best possible treatments available.

Nowadays, in most cases, this region’s major health-care providers routinely offer the quantity, quality and state-of-the-art services once limited to larger hospital systems in more populous metropolitan centers.

Indeed the Valley’s health-care matrix – led by Mercy Health Youngs-town, Steward Health Care System and Southwoods Health Care – has matured into one the largest and most prosperous service industries in our three-county metropolitan area.

With more than 23,000 employees, health care has eclipsed former industrial giants such as manufacturing of automobiles and steel products as our top employer.

That often unrecognized and underappreciated stature will be front and center come March 3 and 4 when the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber hosts this region’s first-ever comprehensive health and wellness exposition at the Covelli Centre in downtown Youngstown.

The free-to-the-public expo – aptly titled “Live Well. Be Well. Locally.” – aims to educate Valley consumers about the wealth of health-care options and specialties right here in their own backyard.

100 exhibitors expected

The expo is expected to burst at its seams with more than 100 local exhibitors and several dozen speakers. Some of the topics to be discussed by experts in their fields include preventive care and wellness, Medicare/Medicaid quandaries, power of attorney, living will, pain management, joint replacement, elder care, assisted living and long-term care and nutrition. A variety of health screenings and tests will be available as well at the two-day weekend event.

It is commendable that all three major hospital and acute-care service providers in the Valley have put aside their competitive interests to unite in organizing and presenting the exposition. Mercy, Steward and Southwoods all stand to benefit from a broader community knowledge base of the scope of their operations.

But the goal of attracting more patrons to Valley health-care systems also rises as a win-win situation for all. Consumers avoid the stress, time and expense of long-distance travel. The hospitals then stand poised for additional growth in services and heightened employment levels.

So mark the first Saturday and Sunday of March on your calendars now. “Live Well. Be Well. Locally.” promises to be an enlightening, enriching and rewarding experience for all attendees.

The expo will serve a vital purpose of bringing the value and growth of our region’s increasingly cutting-edge health-care services into sharper focus for all.

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