PRINCETON, N.J., June 30 New Jersey hospitals provided $2.6 billion in added benefits to their communities last year above and beyond the healthcare services they provided to their patients, according to a new report from the New Jersey Hospital Association.
The total includes the value of free and discounted care for the poor, uninsured and senior citizens; community health offerings like immunization clinics and other wellness programs; education for future healthcare professionals; medical research; and a wide array of additional community programs. The 2009 results are reported in the new NJHA report, New Jersey Hospitals: Report of Community Benefit 2010.
"This report, for the first time, quantifies the dollar equivalent of those many community programs and services provided by New Jersey hospitals," said NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan. "No municipality, county or even the state could afford to replicate the invaluable programs and services that hospitals provide to their communities."
Data for the report was collected from 58 of the state's 73 acute care hospitals through a rigorous survey process. Most of the information was collected electronically through data collection software; other hospitals reported on a manual survey form. NJHA used standardized reporting categories and definitions from the Catholic Healthcare Association and the Veterans Health Administration, which are widely used by hospitals across the country.
The $2.6 billion in community benefits tallied in the report include:
Recognizing that hospitals' connections to their communities extend well beyond mere numbers, the report also includes examples of "community benefit in action" - real-life stories of individuals whose lives were touched by hospitals' charity care services, cancer screenings, healthy lifestyle programs and community donations.
"With each health service, screening, education program and dollar invested to help people in need, hospitals advance the physical well-being and economic health of their communities," said Alex Hatala, CEO of Lourdes Health System and chairman of the NJHA Board of Trustees. "Their contributions reflect hospitals' unflagging belief that it takes more than medical care to make a community healthy."
The full report is available on the NJHA Web site at www.njha.com/hret/Pdf/NJHA_HRET_2010_CommunityBenefitReport.pdf.
-- Nearly $2.4 billion in unpaid costs of patient care, which includes $795 million in unreimbursed charity care services for the working poor, $417 million in unpaid care for Medicare patients and $168 million in unpaid care for Medicaid patients. This amount also includes $1 billion in uncollectible costs for treatment, also known as bad debt. -- $39.2 million in community health improvement services, which include programs such as health fairs, health screenings and immunization clinics. About 5,000 programs were held statewide, providing more than 12.5 million unique "personal encounters" between hospitals and community members. -- $82.7 million in health professions education, which includes education, internships, residency programs, scholarships and other programs to prepare the next generation of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Nearly 51,000 current and future healthcare workers were served in these programs. -- $157.3 million in other community services and programs, many of which go beyond the traditional definition of "healthcare programs." Hospitals provided nearly 1,800 such programs in 2009, providing 1 million unique "personal encounters."
SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association