UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s provided nearly $15.6 million in community benefit and Mercy Medical Center—Sioux City provided another $26 million in community benefits to Siouxland, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. Specifically implemented to help Siouxland residents, those amounts are based on 2015 figures.
Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City reports $6.2 million in uncompensated care, $15 million in Medicare and Medicaid (at cost) losses and $4.7 million in free or discounted community benefits. St. Luke’s implemented over $4.5 million in uncompensated care, over $8.6 million in Medicare and Medicaid (at cost) losses and over $2 million in free or discounted community benefits. In addition, St. Luke’s provides another $400,000 in Health Professions Education.
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 the Sioux City hospitals are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2015 valued at more than $1 billion, including more than $246 million in charity care. All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey."Through our Community Benefit ministry we operate or contribute to over a dozen community programs aimed at improving the lives of our citizens through the focus on social issues that negatively impact their health, like improving housing, making sure food is available for all, and programs aimed at helping children," says Jim FitzPatrick, President and CEO of Mercy Medical Center. "For 27 years our Child Advocacy Center has helped children suffering from sexual, physical and emotional abuse, all while never charging families for the services. Taking care of those in need has been the focus of the Sisters of Mercy since the 1840's."
“UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s is a health care delivery organization built on over 132 years of history in Siouxland and for the past 50 years we have proudly been wearing the St. Luke's name,” says Lynn Wold, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s. “Throughout our history and into the future, we remain dedicated to the overall health of Siouxland residents through provision of services at our hospital, clinics, surgery center, home care and St. Luke’s College.”
“Iowa hospitals are uniquely positioned to deliver these programs and services,” said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris. “No other public or private entity could possibly fill in for hospitals in terms of both assessing and responding to specific community needs.”
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 2015 was valued at nearly $520 million. The survey also showed total Medicare and Medicaid losses (at cost) of nearly $370 million.
“Over the last several years, the amount of charity care and bad debt provided to patients at St. Luke’s has remained consistent,” states Wold. “We continue to fill the needs of underinsured and non-insured. To improve our patients experience and in an effort to be transparent on the cost of care, St. Luke’s is providing more resources to patients before they receive their bill. Whether patients qualify for financial assistance or if they need a payment plan or a loan, our financial counselors work proactively to ensure patients receive the care and treatment they need.”
"Charity care and bad debt levels continue to be high at Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City," says FitzPatrick. "But at the heart of our mission is to take care of people in need and provide the highest quality health care regardless their ability to pay. Mercy will not waver from our responsibilities going forward and will continue to assist patients in enrolling in Medicaid and other programs to help address their needs."
Iowa hospitals, which employ more than 71,000 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.
"With Mercy's $186 million economic impact on Siouxland, we are committed to engaging front line staff to understand our opportunities for improvement," says FitzPatrick. "As an industry leader in Performance Excellence, in the last calendar year, we have completed almost 3,000 ideas for improvement that were identified by Mercy colleagues and have collaborated with over a dozen Siouxland companies, sharing knowledge of how all of us can improve for the benefit of not only our employees, but all citizens."
“With an estimated $138.1 million impact on the Siouxland economy, UnityPoint Health – Sioux City believes in a people-centered culture dedicated to continuous improvement,” adds Wold. “Over the past year we have identified multiple process improvements that have reduced waste, improved efficiency, boosted employee engagement and increased patient satisfaction. These improvements have a tremendous impact inside and outside of the hospital.”
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.