September 4, 2018

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center president & CEO pens letter to the editor about hospital community benefit

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center provided $19 million in community benefit in 2017. St. Vincent Charity President & CEO David Perse, M.D., recently wrote a letter to the editor about the impact community benefit has on serving real people with real heath needs. Following is the full text of his letter.

Hospital community benefit serves real people with real health needs

The Plain Dealer recently published a story on hospital community benefit. I was dismayed it focused more on property than people.

Community benefit is designed to improve health in communities and increase access to care. It is integral to the mission of nonprofit health care organizations, and is the basis of tax exemption. Catholic hospitals have been trailblazers in setting the model and maintaining a high ratio of direct service.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, Cleveland's downtown hospital, provided $19 million in community benefit in 2017. We directed most of those dollars to serving real people with real health needs.

For example, Jenna, 27, has struggled with the disease of addiction since she was 12. She enrolled in rehabilitation several times for cocaine and heroin addiction, but relapsed. For so many addiction patients, financial challenges and reliable transportation present major obstacles, which often cause them to relapse or drop out of recovery programs.

Rosary Hall's intensive outpatient treatment program (IOP) works. However, it only works if patients are able to make every session and receive the support necessary to continue their journey toward recovery. Last year, St. Vincent launched a pilot program offering free Lyft/Uber transportation for addiction patients, including Jenna.

She told The New York Times, "It has been a huge asset to me rebuilding my life and getting back on my feet." She has been sober for five months.

Attendance rates overall for IOP have grown from 76 to 90 percent as a result of the transportation program.

These are the stories that can't be lost in the community benefit conversation.

Improving the health of individuals, families and communities is at the forefront of what health systems do every day. When we improve health for people, we provide a healthier outlook for our region's future.

David Perse, MD
President & CEO
St. Vincent Charity Medical Center

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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