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N.J. Hospitals Provide $2.3 Billion In Community Benefits

PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New Jersey hospitals provided $2.3 billion in added benefits to their communities in 2011 above and beyond the healthcare services they provided to their patients, according to a new report from the New Jersey Hospital Association.

The total includes the value of free and discounted care for the poor, uninsured and senior citizens; community health offerings like immunization clinics and other wellness programs; education for future healthcare professionals; medical research; and a wide array of additional community programs. The 2011 results are reported in the new NJHA report, New Jersey Hospitals: Community Benefit Report 2012.

"It is no longer just about who comes through the doors of the hospital. New Jersey hospitals are proactively reaching out into their communities as active partners to improve the health of the people they serve," said NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan.

Data for the report was collected from 53 of the state's 73 acute care hospitals through a rigorous survey process. Most of the information was collected electronically through data collection software; other hospitals reported on a manual survey form. NJHA used standardized reporting categories and definitions from the Catholic Healthcare Association and the Veterans Health Administration, which are widely used by hospitals across the country.

The $2.3 billion in community benefits tallied in the report include:
  • $1.8 billion in unpaid costs of patient care, which includes $595 million in unreimbursed charity care services for the working poor, $171 million in unpaid care for Medicare patients and $113 million in unpaid care for Medicaid patients. This amount also includes $1 billion in uncollectible costs for treatment, also known as bad debt.
  • $44 million in community health improvement services, which include programs such as health fairs, health screenings and immunization clinics. About 3,800 programs were held statewide, providing more than 15 million unique "personal encounters" between hospitals and community members.
  • $112 million in health professions education, which includes education, internships, residency programs, scholarships and other programs to prepare the next generation of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Nearly 59,000 current and future healthcare workers were served in these programs.
  • $339 million in other community services and programs, many of which go beyond the traditional definition of "healthcare programs." Hospitals provided over 2,800 such programs in 2011, providing 1.4 million unique "personal encounters."

Recognizing that hospitals' connections to their communities extend well beyond mere numbers, the report also includes examples of "community benefit in action" – real-life stories of individuals whose lives were touched by hospitals' health screenings, community outreach initiatives, healthy lifestyle programs and community donations.

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