There are slightly less than 5000 Community Hospitals in the United States, about 80% of which are non-profits. Providing “community benefit” is required for hospitals to be tax-exempt charitable organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service, but Oaklawn Hospital was not established as a non-profit hospital to obtain tax exemptions. It was established in 1925 for the purpose of providing charitable care and public good, and over 85 years later that remains its focus.
Oaklawn’s mission focuses on providing high-quality care to improve the health and well being of the communities it serves. Included in its Vision is “exceeding the expectation of its patients; being a responsible corporate citizen; and providing charitable care to those in need.” To fulfill its Mission and Vision, Oaklawn annually contributes time, personnel, and resources to community outreach programs in addition to direct patient care. Outreach programs can be in the form of financial contributions to institutions, organizations and projects, or as free or subsidized programs, services, activities, or events that promote community health or community building.
In addition to providing community benefits, non-profit hospitals are required to record and submit an annual Community Benefits Report. Oaklawn’s 2010 Community Report shows the hospital contributed financial or in-kind benefits of $635,699 toward improved health services, $1,765,000 in medical education and research, and $293,246 to community-building efforts.
Direct patient care benefits occur because non-profit hospitals are committed to treating all patients regardless of their ability to pay. Oaklawn provided $15.08 million in uncompensated medical care in 2010, including $672,702 in charity care, $2,216,000 in bad debts, and $12,191,672 in “below cost” reimbursements from Medicaid, Medicare, and other government-authorized programs. When you combine the outreach programs and direct patient care benefits that Oaklawn contributed to the region, its total 2010 Community Benefit figure comes to $17,774,209.
Providing outstanding medical treatment is Oaklawn’s number one goal, but promoting wellness and community building is much more than a legal requirement. It’s the basis upon which Oaklawn was founded and continues to operate nearly 87 years later.