Albia, IA – Monroe County Hospital & Clinics (MCHC) provides $707,600 in community benefits to Monroe County, IA according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2016 figures, includes $609,877 in uncompensated care and $97,723 in free or discounted community benefits that Monroe County Hospital & Clinics specifically implemented to help Monroe County, IA residents.
Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to health care. Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services and transportation programs.
The results for Monroe County Hospital & Clinics are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2016 valued at more than $855 million, including more than $198 million in charity care. All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey.
“The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of individual communities as well as entire counties and regions. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital support and leadership,” said IHA President and CEO, Kirk Norris.
MCHC is home to many free or reduced care services such as a health coaching service that is led by Allison Judge, RN, a community wellness expo offering wellness screenings and flu vaccinations at a reduced cost, and MCHC’s state of the art 3D Mammography offering a Free Mammogram Program that provides free and reduced cost mammography for those who may not be covered by insurance or are underinsured.
MCHC also participates in various activities to ensure community members are being served in many different areas outside of healthcare. These activities include school supply drives, donating items to local food pantries, raising money and donating items for local families in need and the NEST program which is organized through the Monroe County Extension Office.
“MCHC is committed to focusing on health and wellness in our community and working with community partners on the improvement of those identified needs,” stated by Veronica Fuhs, CEO, Monroe County Hospital & Clinics.
Uncompensated care (which is made up of both charity care and bad debt) also plays a role in overall community benefit for services provided by hospitals. Total uncompensated care in 2016 was valued at $468 million. The survey also showed total Medicare and Medicaid losses (at cost) of $212 million.
Charity care in Iowa hospitals has declined precipitously since implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including Iowa’s expansion of the Medicaid program. Recent efforts in Congress to repeal the ACA and roll back expansion would not only leave tens of thousands of Iowans without insurance, but would financially endanger hospitals across the state, which is why IHA has strenuously opposed such legislation.
Iowa hospitals, which employ more than 72,000 people, continue implement strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care to individuals, addressing the health needs of identified populations and implementing process improvements that bend the cost curve. By seeking out ways to raise quality, reduce waste and increase safety, Iowa hospitals have become value leaders, as shown in multiple studies by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, the Commonwealth Fund and others.
MCHC has a strong emphasis on improving quality and safety for the community we serve. MCHC participates in state and national quality initiatives led by the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative (IHC). IHC is a provider-led, patient-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a culture of continuous improvement in healthcare. Through collaborative efforts, MCHC participates in transparent reporting of key quality measures in the areas of patient and family engagement, readmissions, hospital acquired infections, falls, adverse drug events, pressure ulcers, venous thromboembolism (VTE), sepsis and worker safety. MCHC leaders and staff regularly attend educational offerings and conferences sponsored by IHC to engage in evidence-based learning and sharing of best practices. Through these activities, MCHC has been able to improve the safety, quality, and clinical outcome for our patients.
These efforts, along with IHA’s ongoing advocacy to create fairer payment methodologies from Medicare and Medicaid, help ensure the financial stability of hospitals, making it possible for them to provide the services and programs most needed by their communities.