How top ranked hospitals are giving back to their communities

By Brenna Miller and Imari Daniels

The Lown Institute issues an annual Fair Share Spending report that examines how well nonprofit hospitals give back to their communities in relation to the value of their tax exemptions. This year, we asked leaders at our top Fair Share hospitals to tell us about a community health initiative in the past year that was particularly impactful or innovative.

Making partnerships for equity

Wellstar Health System in Georgia created a Center for Health Equity in 2019, to address health inequities in partnership with government agencies, businesses, philanthropies, and other community groups. Through their Community Health Needs Assessment process, the system uncovered critical disparities such as access to care, behavioral health, and women’s health. For example, to address gaps in maternal health outcomes, Wellstar partnered with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) to provide care packages for new moms. 

“We believe that we are stronger together and have built many partnerships. Community outreach is part of Wellstar’s mission to enhance the health and wellbeing of every person we serve.”

-Matt O’Connor, Wellstar Executive Director of External Communications

Addressing food insecurity

St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania also points to their Community Health Needs Assessment as the driver of their efforts. The results of their CHNA indicated that food insecurity was a major concern for community members. To address this key issue, the hospital’s Department of Community Health established food access initiatives that connected patients with SNAP, WIC, and other food programs; issued referrals to existing food bank programs; and hosted new food distribution programs that were both mobile and on-site, with each site serving over 140 households per month.

Referrals to social needs

Maimonides Medical Center in New York helps to address their patients’ social needs with the Community Care of Brooklyn (CCB) navigator. The CCB navigator is a free tool that connects patients to community resources for access to mental health care, transportation, social workers, medication pickup, housing support, and other social services. There are over 300 services available within the community in numerous languages.

Sam Miller, VP of Marketing and Communications, told the Lown Institute, “The CCB Navigator was created with a focus on the social factors impacting health. Navigators are trained in person-centered, trauma-informed care and have access to interpreter services, making the CCB Navigator highly accessible to Brooklyn’s diverse communities.”

Similarly, Cayuga Health connects patients to community partners to give them support for food insecurity, housing insecurity, childcare, and more.

“It is no longer possible to serve patients exclusively within our facilities’ walls, and improve our community health.”

-Dr. Martin Stallone, Cayuga Health CEO