Hospitals today are expected to measure and report their clinical quality, the cost of care, and patient outcome data. Given the high cost of healthcare this demand for accountability is easy to understand. The call for accountability goes beyond measuring cost and quality of patient care and now includes a wide range of hospital activities and services that together are defined as community benefit.
Carey Gardner, director of community relations, says the hospital?s mission is to offer high quality healthcare to its patients, but the mission does not stop there.
?In addition to that traditional role of patient care Union Hospital is also a major employer in the region, driver of the local economy, a charitable organization, an educator, and community advocate,? Gardner said. ?It is through this combination of roles that the hospital?s community benefit can be measured and evaluated.?
Gardner says hospitals are working to standardize the way they report community benefit totals. For the year 2007, Gardner says Union Hospital reports a community benefit total of $5.3 million, including health outreach activities, charity care, and losses from caring for Medicaid beneficiaries.
In addition, Gardner said unpaid patient charges and losses from caring for Medicare patients accounted to $10.6 million.
?While the dollar totals are huge, we should not focus only on charity care and health outreach programs,? Gardner said. ?The community benefits greatly from our maintaining a 24/7 emergency department, a maternity center, and by providing a clinical training site for the next generation of nurses, technologists, and other healthcare professionals.?
Gardner says the complete community benefit report is available on the hospital?s web site. Go to www.unionhospital.org, click on News and Events, and select Community Benefit Report. A printed copy is also available by calling the Community Relations office at (330) 364-0806.