Catholic Health Initiatives facilities, including the Franciscan Health System, have a deep commitment to and a long tradition of providing benefit to their communities. Our facilities have always provided care for those in need, regardless of their ability to pay. But the benefits we provide to our communities go beyond helping all who come to the doors of our facilities. We also:
- Reach out into the community to connect with civic leaders, social services, charitable organizations and ordinary citizens.
- Determine what health-related services and programs are most needed.
- Develop ways to meet those needs through services that are free or heavily discounted.
Exactly what community benefit is, and how it is quantified, is often not well understood. Here’s a definition from the Catholic Health Association:
Community benefit consists of programs and services designed to improve health in communities and to increase access to health care. Community benefit is integral to the mission of Catholic and other not-for-profit health care organizations, and is the basis of tax exemption.
For the Franciscan Health System, community benefit is a planned, organized and measured approach to meeting identified community health needs. Community benefit may serve a specific group of persons who are economically poor, or serve a broad cross-section of the community. Always, the intent is to address and improve the overall health of the community.
Examples of community benefit include free or discounted health screenings, free children’s immunizations, smoking-cessation programs such as Franciscan Freedom from Tobacco, free or discounted care for individuals who cannot pay, and sponsorship of events such as community health fairs, and programs such as the Sobering Center of Tacoma, that increase access to care and help people who are poor or underserved.