Via Christi Health provided more than $90.5 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2012, the highest amount since the system began tracking the information about seven years ago, officials said.
About $75 million of the money recorded as community benefit, which includes charity care and services provided to those unable to pay, was spent in Wichita, said Renee Hanrahan, director of Community Benefit for Via Christi Health.
As a nonprofit organization, Via Christi is required to report the figures each year.
But Jeff Korsmo, president and CEO of Via Christi Health, said there’s more to the numbers than legal mandate.
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“It is essential to our mission as a Catholic health care organization,” Korsmo said. “Our mission statement talks about our responsibility for caring for our neighbors who are underserved and this is the numerical compilation of that work.”
The figures are up from $82 million the previous year, and Via Christi officials attribute the rise mostly to the increased number of uninsured patients. The system’s fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
“I think it’s safe to say that across most of the country, in the last several years, there’s been a rise of this because of the difficult economy and people losing their jobs, which leads to loss of health insurance,” Korsmo said.
The community benefit figure includes $46.8 million in traditional charity care, $21.7 million in unpaid costs of Medicaid services and $22 million in other community services, according to a news release.
The community benefit includes, among other services and programs, about $15.4 million to train future health professionals, more than $2.5 million in subsidized health services and more than $4 million in other services, such as health screenings and research, according to the release.
The funds spent are determined in part by needs assessments, which are conducted every three years, Hanrahan said. The most recent one was completed last year.
“What we provide is based on identified community needs,” she said. “Either historical, where history has shown that the services we provide are needed, or there is so much need that maybe more than one organization has to provide it in the community.”
In Wichita, some of Via Christi’s continuing initiatives include supporting Wichita State’s advanced education in general dentistry program, which offers dental services at reduced rates for low-income or uninsured patients, and supporting the Gerard House, which provides services to pregnant women.
Unlike for-profit entities, the Via Christi numbers are reported costs, rather than charges, for services. Unpaid and uncollected bills and the unpaid costs of Medicare services are not included. The reporting follows the guidelines set by the Catholic Health Association.
Via Christi officials said if they had used the American Hospital Association guidelines, which include bad debt and unpaid Medicare costs, the benefit would total $124.4 million.