About Chelyen Davis:
Chelyen Davis is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star
The tide keeps rising
The area’s population growth will likely continue, despite the recession, according to one market research firm.
Nielsen Claritas, a national company based in California, estimates that the population of Fredericksburg and the four surrounding counties will increase by 49,000 people by 2013.
MediCorp Health System, parent company of Mary Washington Hospital and Stafford Hospital Center, included Claritas’ numbers in the application that it sent to the Virginia Department of Health for a new cardiac catheterization lab at Stafford Hospital Center.
MediCorp pays an annual fee to access a planning software package from Claritas. MediCorp has used demographic information from Claritas for several years and finds its work to be reliable, said Phil Brown, director of strategic planning.
Claritas says that the 2008 population of the region was 310,000. The company believes that the population in 2013 will be 359,000, an increase of nearly 16 percent.
That growth is down a bit from what the Virginia Employment Commission says happened here from 2000 to 2005. During that five-year period, the VEC says that the area added almost 56,000 people, an increase of about 23 percent.
Stafford County school officials recently reached a similar conclusion. They looked at the change in the average daily membership for the last five years (up 3.7 percent) and compared it with their best guess for the average daily membership for the next five years (up 3.4 percent).
So, even though the region’s population growth may be slowing, the numbers are still increasing and still staggering. Each year the region adds about 10,000 new people, or 27 a day. That means continued pressure on all local services, especially health care.