Q&A with Secretary of Health and Social Services Rita Landgraf.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations nationwide are projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, adding about 2.3 million new jobs.

Due to an aging population and more individuals with health insurance, Secretary of Health and Social Services Rita Landgraf said the state is preparing through planning and innovation.

      BY THE NUMBERS

      ♦ 9.8 percent of state’s workforce is employed in healthcare

      ♦ 13 Delaware’s rank in nation, percentage of workforce in healthcare

      ♦ 9,980 jobs projected to be added 2012-2022

Sources: Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware 2022 Occupations & Industry Projections

Q What fields are best for a healthcare career?

A Delaware uses federal Health Professional Shortage Area designations.

There are 10 mental health HPSAs in Delaware, including all of Sussex County, only 25.6 percent of the need being met. There are nine HPSAs for primary care, including all of Kent and Sussex counties, but 94 percent of the need is being met. For dental services, there are six HPSAs, with 47 percent of the need being met.

According to the Delaware 2022 Occupations & Industry Projections, the healthcare and social assistance industry is projected to add the most jobs over the next decade with a projected growth of 9,980 jobs.

Q Is the trend to build new hospitals or expand?

A Delaware has a certificate of need process by which healthcare entities wishing to build new or expand existing facilities or incur capital expenditures over a certain threshold must be granted approval from the state’s Health Resources Board. The board’s guiding document, the Health Resources Management Plan, states “no additional hospitals offering medical/surgical beds shall be established in Delaware over the next five years.”

The board has reviewed six expansions in the last five years, and has had six applications for building new facilities. Two of the new facility applications were for freestanding emergency centers of existing health systems and four were for inpatient rehabilitation, psychiatric or short-term rehab facilities.

Q How is the state dealing with the growing 65-and-up community?

A With Delaware’s fast-growing older population expected to reach more than 250,000 by 2030, we are working with our partners in the community to build capacity to serve older persons, adults with disabilities and caregivers. That work, detailed in DHSS’ State Plan on Aging, is driven by the overwhelming desire of Delaware seniors to age safely with respect and dignity in their own homes.

Our efforts to support more seniors in the community include partnering with St. Francis Healthcare’s LIFE Center on the Riverfront, support for Meals on Wheels Delaware, increased usage of telehealth, one-on-one financial coaching through $tand By Me 50+ and transitioning Medicaid’s long-term-care seniors to Managed Care Organizations to better coordinate care and supports.

The state’s Aging and Disability Resource Center has become a hub for information and support and will continue to increase availability of services going forward.