Systemic investment in community health has not always been a high priority for many hospitals. With the Affordable Care Act all non-profit hospitals must now assess community health needs and develop a strategic and periodic plan to meet those needs. Failure to do so can result in a $50,000 fine. This is also a fine per hospital in large hospital systems.
A Cornell University video about the Truman Medical Center in St. Louis vividly shows a win/win impact for both the community and the hospital. The hospital increased its annual operating revenue by $283 million even while serving an urban inner city, low income community.
It added a bank, negotiated with a local hotel to dedicate rooms for patients who did not require hospitalization, but needed overnight stays and it started a community grocery van and a Wednesday farmer’s market so the community could have access to fresh vegetables and fruits, not often found in some neighborhoods.
What did patients say about why their health had improved? The simple answer: “They cared.”
The Center’s CEO speech shows how serving a community can serve its hospital. Once he starts speaking the program is gripping. The Center won national recognition for patient-centered care.
The CEO, John Bluford III,was named one of the Most Influential People in Health Care by Modern Health Care and Becker’s Hospital Review. He was Board Chair, American Hospital Association in 2011. He also chaired the National Association of Public Hospitals, Chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Missouri Hospital Association. He established the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute in 2013.
The speech is 45 minutes long with slides and videos of both financial and community successes. It is well worth the watch.
I encourage you—health professional or not—to watch the video and to read the following two articles. These all demonstrate the importance of community investments whose impacts extend far beyond health care.
These investments matter. After all, we are all in these ships of our communities together.
Kathleen O’Connor © April 11, 2016