In The Spotlight:

Demand for health services is rising at area hospitals, a trend that is likely to continue and increase the need for workers in the industry, according to a report from the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.

Health care is the second-largest industry in Burbank and Glendale, employing about 24,000 workers at area hospitals and clinics, according to the report.

The entertainment industry, which accounts for the employment of about 50,000 area workers, generates the majority of the region’s economic activity, according to the board.

But recent demand for services in the health-care industry has allowed local hospitals to add jobs, giving strength to a critical industry at a time when motion picture and television-related jobs have been in short supply.

“It’s mostly due to the aging workplace that we have in this area,” said Ellie MacMullin, an administrative analyst who wrote the report, referring to the region’s demographics.

A large chunk of the region’s population will be older than 50 in the next 10 years, largely due to the area’s baby boomers, MacMullin said.

“You can see that percentage of the population has grown significantly and we expect it to continue to grow,” MacMullin said.

With regional demographics changing, so will the demands on hospitals and clinics, she said.

“The need for services from the hospitals and from the health-care industry will be even greater as the population ages,” MacMullin said.

Area hospitals have noticed upswings in demand recently and are hiring, according to the workforce board.

A total of 125 local health-care jobs are available, according to the report.

“It’s entirely based on need,” said Patricia Aidem, a spokeswoman for Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, the area’s largest hospital with about 2,500 employees. “You’re serving patients and, as a health-care organization, you have to hire nurses when the need arises, whether it’s an existing position or not.”

The hospital filled about 65 new positions in 2009 and is continuing to hire to meet growing demands.

Glendale Adventist Medical Center, which has about 2,300 employees, hired 24 new workers in 2009, and Verdugo Hills Hospital and Glendale Memorial Hospital are ramping up hiring efforts as well, hospital representatives said.

Additional employment opportunities in the field could come as area facilities attempt to digitize their records in accordance with government initiatives, MacMullin said.

“The health-care industry feels that that is going to be growing,” she said. “So in that particular area we might go out and look for some grants to help train workers to move into position for that in the future.”

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