St. Luke’s reports $5.3M in community benefits in 2009

Published 12:54 am Friday, December 3, 2010

According to St. Luke’s Hospital, the hospital provided a value of $5,361,417 in charity care and unreimbursed costs, direct patient care services and community health improvement services in 2009.
As a not-for-profit organization, St. Luke’s Hospital submits a community benefits report to the state of North Carolina outlining the services the hospital provides that benefit the community, whether for unreimbursed costs of treating patients, for health outreach in the community, for volunteer efforts and in-kind support for other non-profits.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the North Carolina Hospital Association (NCHA) have endorsed a standardized community benefits report that hospitals use to calculate their assets that improve the health and well-being of the local communities they serve.
“When community residents are injured or sick, regardless of their ability to pay, they turn to St. Luke’s Hospital. As the community’s safety net, we provide that care day and night, day in and day out,” Shull said. “As a small community hospital, we have the responsibility to give back.”
According to the report, during 2009, St. Luke’s largest amount of community benefit provided was $3.9 million to bad debt, with $624,172 as charity care (care provided for free or at a substantial discount to those unable to pay). As a business, the hospital attempts to collect any money due for services, but sometimes people just cannot or do not pay, especially in these trying economic times.
Ken Shull, president and chief executive officer of St. Luke’s Hospital, says, “Each year, we are struck by how much the idea of helping our community is woven through St. Luke’s Hospital and the programs we offer, such as a 24-hour physician-staffed ER that treats more than 9,000 patients, regardless of their ability to pay.”
St. Luke’s officials also point out that the hospital benefited the community through various health and education classes for the community, several health fairs and free screenings, as a sponsor for numerous community events and as a participant or leader with other community organizations, such as the Polk Wellness Center, the Polk County Wellness Coalition, the Council on Aging and others. Examples of service to the community also include: HealthTalks with local physicians, free balance screenings through St. Luke’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center and the Polk County School System Health Fair.
“Of course, we provide much more to the good of our community, and we believe these contributions, large and small, are fundamental to our mission and why we exist,” added Susan McHugh, chair of the board of trustees. “Providing quality medical care to the community and the patients we serve is an essential value we hold at St. Luke’s Hospital. And we’re proud of that vital role we play in our community’s health.”

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