Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in new state-of-the art hospital facilities and renovations in the Dayton area in recent years, and some of the biggest beneficiaries of the local hospital building boom have been minority and women-owned contractors working for southwest Ohio’s largest hospital system, Premier Health.
Premier’s board of trustees has established a subcommittee to promote diversity and inclusion among its contractors and suppliers. The health system’s annual goal is to spend at least 40 percent of its construction budget with minority or women-owned firms, and those responsible for meeting those goals are held accountable on a quarterly basis, said Adrian Taylor, Premier’s diversity director, who works closely with system vice president and chief purchasing officer, Scott Shelton.
“Scott and I have to report out on a quarterly basis who we are spending dollars with, how much those dollars are, where we are reaching out, what projects are we working on. In other words, we have a severe amount of accountability, and we have to be 100 percent transparent about our activities and efforts,” Taylor said.
Premier has managed to exceed the 40 percent diversity spending threshold in in each of the past two years, during which time it spent an estimated $70 million to $75 million with diverse suppliers, according to system officials. The percentage of Premier’s construction spending with certified women- or minority-owned businesses ranged from 50 percent to 60 percent.
Some recent projects in which diversity spending exceeded Premier’s goals include the construction of a 22-bed emergency department to Good Samaritan North Health Center that was completed in 2015, an emergency department expansion and renovation at Upper Valley Medical Center in Miami County and recent upgrades at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton led by WENCO Construction Co. in New Carlisle.
WENCO has been working with Premier for more than 20 years, said owner Suzanne Winters, who attributes her company’s longstanding relationship with Premier to the contractor’s track record of quality work and expertise in hospital and medical office construction.
“Healthcare facility work is a niche in itself, and we have spent the past 10 years improving on that niche,” Winters said. “Premier is one of our biggest and best customers, but it didn’t come easy. We worked hard to get those jobs from Premier.”
WENCO is the normally the general contractor on most of the projects it bids for — a rarity for women-owned firms — and Premier’s requirement that general contractors also meet their diversity and inclusion goals has benefited other women and minority owned sub-contractors and material suppliers.
“Having diversity contractors was unheard of five or six years ago,” Winters said. “We have spent the past five or six years finding those contractors, and we work with a lot of those contractors here at Premier and other health care facilities as well.”
While Premier values diversity, all of its suppliers must be certified by a third-party certifying body, such as the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council; the Ohio Diversity Council; the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council; or the state of Ohio.
“Whoever the sub-contractor or general contractor is on whatever project, the quality standard is going to be the same for everybody,” Shelton said. “We take care of thousands of patients every year. We can’t afford to have substandard quality on any project.”