Hospitals work in a variety of ways to help create healthy communities

For decades, all hospitals and healthcare systems have worked to help their communities by “treating the patient, not just the disease.”

In addition to providing life-saving medical care to individual patients, all hospitals provide unparalleled value to their communities by opening their doors to those in need of care and working in partnership with others to improve and maintain the health of all people in their communities. These efforts are as diverse as the communities they serve and include community clinics, food banks and programs to address food insecurity, medical research, affordable housing and education to improve health and well-being. These services are tailored to the diverse health needs of the communities that the hospital serves.

Several new studies underscore the tremendous value hospitals bring to their communities.

Ernst & Young’s initial analysis found that tax-exempt hospitals and healthcare systems provided over $110 billion in community services in fiscal 2019 – the most recent annual data available – nearly nine times the value of their federal tax exemption. The report examines only tax-exempt hospitals and healthcare systems, so the $110 billion community benefits would be higher if it included the services that all hospitals provide to their communities.

A separate analysis by the AHA shows that tax-exempt hospitals and health systems provided community services totaling 13.9% of their spending, with over half of those services providing financial assistance to patients and absorbing losses due to underpayments from Medicaid and other means-tested state programs.

There are thousands of examples of hospitals and healthcare systems that are leaders and genuine partners in health promotion efforts. These efforts help set hospitals apart from other healthcare sectors.

Financial statistics aside, here are just a few examples of programs that illustrate the many ways hospitals benefit their communities:

  • CentraCare in St. Cloud, Minnesota worked with community partners to break down language barriers and create a safe environment to encourage Latinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring, Md., addresses one of the most devastating health problems in its region — and the country — childhood obesity. Obese children are at greater risk for other health problems later in life, but teaching children healthy living habits early through programs like Kid’s Fit can go a long way in preventing obesity and future chronic health conditions.

Over the past two and a half years, during an unprecedented public health crisis, our nation has seen firsthand how America’s hospitals and healthcare systems have cared for their patients and provided essential services to their communities.

And as the healthcare sector finds itself in the midst of an historic shift, hospitals and healthcare systems are helping to lead the charge in shaping the future for the patients and communities they serve.

When people see the trusty blue “H,” they know their hospital is always there, ready to care as we work to advance health in America.

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