Via Christi Health, a member of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and not-for-profit healthcare system, provided $82.5 million in community benefit in the 2015 fiscal year, providing free medical care to those in need, educating healthcare professionals and supporting community health efforts in Wichita, Pittsburg, Manhattan and Wamego.
In reporting its community benefit, Via Christi Health follows the guidelines set by the Catholic Health Association, which calls for community benefit to be reported at the health system’s cost of providing those services, rather than the amount billed. The CHA guidelines are similar to guidelines set by the American Hospital Association and the Internal Revenue Service for reporting Community Benefit. However, the AHA allows for reporting bad debt and unpaid costs of Medicare services. If bad debt and unpaid costs of Medicare services were included, Via Christi Health’s total benefit to the community would equal $126.6 million.
Via Christi’s total of $82.5 million in community benefit includes $46.1 million in charity care. It also includes $15.6 million in unpaid costs of Medicaid services. In Wichita, Via Christi provided $72.1 million in community benefit, including $39.8 million in charity care.
“Consistent with our mission, we’re helping ensure that everyone, particularly our community’s most vulnerable, have access to quality healthcare through our charity care, community outreach, education and services,” said Jeff Korsmo, chief executive officer for Via Christi Health. “Our clinics, hospitals and senior villages work actively within our communities to create and support programs that focus on expanding access to care for people who are poor or otherwise underserved.”
In addition to charity care for patients with inadequate financial means and unpaid costs of Medicaid services, Via Christi’s overall fiscal year 2015 community benefit included:
- More than $430,000 in subsidized health services provided by our specialty and family practice clinics, and other subsidized health services.
- Nearly $16.6 million in training for physicians, nurses and other health professionals.
- More than $3.75 million in other services, such as support of community clinics, health screenings, research, community building activities and donations of space to community organizations.
Community benefit must meet at least one of the following criteria: improve access to health services, enhance community health, advance medical knowledge or demonstrate charitable purpose. Via Christi provides community benefit by responding to the medical needs of special populations, such as the frail elderly, poor persons with disabilities, the chronically mentally ill, and persons with AIDS; or supplying services or programs that would likely be discontinued if the decision were made on a purely financial basis.
Examples of Via Christi’s community benefit in the Wichita area include:
- Human Trafficking: Via Christi trained more than 500 physicians, nurses and other clinicians to recognize if a patient may be a victim of human trafficking and then to provide help to the victims. Via Christi launched its program in 2014 as part of the Catholic Health Association’s national awareness campaign to combat human trafficking and expanded the training in 2015. Since the program began, Via Christi clinicians have identified and helped more than 30 human trafficking victims.
- Dispensary of Hope: The outpatient pharmacies at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis and Via Christi Clinic on Murdock both serve as a Dispensary of Hope, providing unused medications from manufacturers, distributors and physicians to uninsured patients as part of a national safety net. In 2015, more than 1,620 patients in need received prescription medications free of charge, improving their treatment and quality of life.
- Community volunteerism: Via Christi leaders and staff members volunteer in the communities where they live and work, helping to provide hands-on service to the poor, vulnerable and those who are struggling. In 2015, Via Christi associates volunteered their time to help build two homes in a project sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Habitat for Humanity and other organizations.
For more information about Via Christi Health’s community benefit, visit viachristi.org/community-benefit.