By Tonya Adkins
Loudoun County is a great place to live and work. As one of the richest counties in America its growth is attributable to an influx of multifaceted industries that draw a diverse workforce. Like other industries that support the county's growing population, the healthcare industry is big business. According to the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, Loudoun County is the healthiest county in Virginia. With two major hospital systems serving the county, Inova Loudoun Hospital and Stone Springs Hospital, healthcare accounts for thousands of jobs. One of the largest physician-owned, multi-specialty group practices in Virginia is in Loudoun County. With over 145 offices, they too employ thousands of people.
Over 50 percent of the large workforce that supports Loudoun’s healthcare system, be it a hospital, medical practice, or urgent care, can’t afford to live where they work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals 56 percent of all hospital employees work as healthcare practitioners and technicians. Another 32 percent of hospital employees are support personnel such as building maintenance staff, caterers and housekeeping teams who keep hospitals running effectively and efficiently. Many of these support staff play critical roles in the healthcare delivery process. Many cannot afford to live in Loudoun County, the community they serve and support.
The COVID pandemic heralded an awakening in the healthcare workforce. A 2021 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that almost 30 percent of healthcare workers are considering leaving their profession. This post-COVID exodus is due to stress, fatigue, trauma, and burnout leading to a poor quality of life compounded by a lack of commensurate compensation. Our current workforce is focused on work-life balance. They want more family and friends time, shorter commutes, and a sense of community. They are leaving the workforce in Loudoun County and choosing to work closer to home, even if that means lower wages.
As healthcare facilities struggle to find staff, it is imperative that we continue to advocate for increased affordable workforce housing here in Loudoun County. Staffing shortages have implications on the delivery of quality healthcare and the continued economic growth of Loudoun County.
If we want to continue to enjoy the quality of life that living in Loudoun County affords, we must fight to ensure that it is a place where everyone can afford to live and work.
Led by the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties, “What is the Cost of Loudoun Housing” is part of the Workforce Housing Now community service effort amplifying Loudoun’s voice for workforce housing as the missing ingredient to our community’s prosperity.
Dr. Tonya Adkins is a board-certified Obstetrician Gynecologist and is the CEO of HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, a nonprofit community health center aiding underserved residents in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. She began her medical career as a Medical Officer in the U.S. Navy where she rose to the rank of Lt. Commander.
It's a leapfrog situation. The people who live here work in Fairfax. The people who work here live in Winchester.
The county government, despite their lip service, do everything they can to make housing expensive, and therefore pay high taxes. Between their planning and zoning costs, delays, legal fees, proffers , sewer and water hookup, and land prices, a building lot costs $200k before a shovel hits the ground. It's going to stay that way until the market for 1.4 million dollar homes crashes.
Thank you for your truthful article. I am a BSN, RN and cannot afford to live in Loudoun County. They can start in the small locations like Lovettesville that do not permit affordable housing being built not even connected townhouses.
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