About the area's medical boon, Tom Skierka, a spokesman forEmpire Health tells GlobeS.com that, for one, the nature of thearea is attracting a lot of medical talent. "It's a great place tolive. When doctors get out of medical school, they think aboutwhere they want to live," says Skierka, adding, "Spokane's a greatplace to raise a family. It's got the four seasons, affordablehousing and many other things to offer."

Added to that, Skierka says the medical community is striving tocreate (for its size) a leading US medical community. "People thinkthey have to go somewhere else, like Seattle, to get the bestmedical attention. But here we provide everything from major heartsurgery to cancer care," he says.

Affiliates of Spokane-based Empire Health Services, anot-for-profit multi-service health care system, include DeaconessMedical Center, St. Lukes Extended Care Center and Valley Hospital& Medical Center.

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