JOHNSTOWN, Ohio (WCMH)–Licking County’s largest healthcare provider is responding to Intel’s announcement that it’ll bring thousands of new jobs to the area.

Licking Memorial Health CEO Robert Montagnese said he and his team had already been talking about how to address the rapidly-changing needs of a growing community during a pandemic. They found out Friday about Intel’s plans to build two huge manufacturing plants in a northwest portion of the county.

“We’re seeing an aging population, we’re seeing volumes in most facilities be very strong, especially with the inpatient needs,” Montagnese said. “So I think those conversations were already taking place, but they’re just going to be sort of accelerated magnified now with this, this announcement.”

According to Intel, the “mega-fab” site will create about 3,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs.

Intel hasn’t broken ground on its thousand-acre site, and Montagnese predicts the greatest need in Licking County will be for primary care doctors.

“Making sure there’s adequate supply of those for all the folks who are moving in, I think will be critical,” he said.

According to County Health Rankings, an initiative of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, there were 75 primary care physicians in Licking County in 2018, based on the most recent federal data available. The data shows a ratio of one primary care doctor per 2,430 people, which is below Ohio’s average of one per 1,303 and the nationwide average of one per 1,319.

“For many years, you had a lot of folks going into the subspecialties,” Mongagnese said. “Trying to incentivize and reward the primary care is something we need to do, really, as an industry throughout the entire country– not just here.”

Montagnese said he’s also been in talks with local educators about encouraging students to pursue healthcare careers.

“We’re going to have to rely on a lot of the higher education and technical schools throughout the area to help facilitate not only producing engineers that will work at Intel, potentially, but to continue to produce the nurses, the radiology techs, the laboratory techs, the pharmacists so that we can staff and support the hospitals and the health systems,” he said.