In honor of its broad-based efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of its community, St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah, Ga. is the recipient of the 2012 Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service, one of the most esteemed community service honors in healthcare. Each year, this $100,000 prize is presented to a healthcare organization that provides innovative programs that significantly improve the health and well-being of its community. The Foster G. McGaw Prize is sponsored by The Baxter International Foundation, and the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Health Research & Educational Trust. Named as finalists for this year’s award and receiving $10,000 each are Seton Healthcare Family in Austin, Texas; Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wyo.; and Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn. St. Joseph’s/Candler was a finalist for the 2004 Foster G. McGaw Prize before receiving the top honor for 2012. ''St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System takes a holistic approach to healthcare, believing that good health means addressing the whole person, not just physical health,'' said John O’Brien, chair of the Foster G. McGaw Prize Committee. ''It promotes numerous initiatives that address many healthcare and social issues that negatively affect the health and well-being of individuals and the community. The system’s major initiatives tackle disparities in care to connect residents to essential resources, improve access to care for the uninsured, address basic life issues like housing and nutrition, and provide education in a variety of areas to help individuals and families overcome poverty. Through these efforts, working with community partners, St. Joseph’s/Candler demonstrates its commitment to positively impact the overall health of its community.'' St. Joseph’s/Candler is a faith-based, locally owned, not-for-profit health system formed in 1997 as a result of a joint operating agreement between St. Joseph’s Hospital and Candler Hospital – two of the oldest continuously operating hospitals in the nation. The combined 636 licensed acute care beds at these two anchor institutions serve more than 750,000 individuals in coastal Georgia and South Carolina, with the mission of treating illness and promoting wellness for all people. St. Joseph’s/Candler employs more than 3,000 people and offers healthcare services across the entire continuum, including local and regional primary care, specialized inpatient and outpatient services, and home healthcare services, as well as a wide variety of community outreach and education efforts throughout the region. The organization’s faith-based, holistic approach to healing encourages individuals to become more knowledgeable about their personal health, and through strategic planning with numerous community partners, St. Joseph’s/Candler seeks to make a compassionate impact on the lives and the health of its patients and community.
''We are deeply honored to receive this award and grateful to have been given the opportunity to share some of our outreach programs with the Foster McGaw committee,'' said Paul P. Hinchey, President & CEO, St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System. ''We have always believed that external factors strongly influence good health, including safe and adequate housing, education, access to information and meaningful employment. What we have accomplished through our community outreach programs can be replicated anywhere in the country. We are excited for the opportunity to share these efforts with our colleagues and are humbled to have been selected from such impressive finalists. This award honors our co-workers and the Savannah community in general, for focusing on the social determinants of a healthy person.''Among other programs, St. Joseph’s/Candler was recognized for the following innovative community service initiatives:
- African-American Health Information and Resource Center – Opened in 1999 to address disparities and connect Savannah’s poorest residents to essential health resources, this program offers health screenings and seminars, reading and math tutorial programs, computer and Internet access, a ''living smart'' fitness club and professional puppet shows to help children learn how to develop good health habits. The program has served more than 15,000 individuals in the past year.
- Good Samaritan Clinic – Launched in 2007 as a collaboration between St. Joseph’s/Candler, the Georgia Department of Community Health and a local Catholic church, the clinic provides free medical care and medical translation services to a growing number of local residents – particularly Latinos – who are without health insurance. The program served more than 2,100 patients in 2011, and an outcome study of individuals who took part in the clinic’s diabetes education program showed that, after the education session, more than half of them were able to bring their blood sugar under control.
- St. Mary’s Community Center – A living demonstration of the St. Joseph’s/Candler mission that education is the key out of poverty, the center offers a preschool program, after-school tutoring, General Education Development (GED) test preparation, money management counseling and job training skills to individuals and families from Savannah’s poorest census tracts.
- St. Mary’s Health Center – Launched in 2005 as a two-morning-a-week triage and referral center operating out of a 10-foot x 10-foot space in the community center’s computer lab, the health center is now a 5,000 square-foot, 40-hour-a-week primary medical home for more than 60,000 uninsured individuals in Chatham County, Ga. St. Joseph’s/Candler provides free lab services, radiology, diagnostic testing, procedures, screenings and in-patient hospital stays, if necessary.
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program – Operating since 2002, St. Joseph’s/Candler partners with the Internal Revenue Service and about 30 volunteers each year to prepare taxes for the ''working poor.'' The program has grown from 65 tax returns prepared the first year, with total combined refunds just shy of $100,000, to 745 tax returns filed in 2012, with a combined refund value of $1.5 million.
2012 FinalistsThree Foster G. McGaw Prize finalists were also recognized for their significant accomplishments in community service. Each received a $10,000 prize:
- Seton Healthcare Family in Austin, Texas, for working with healthcare providers and community partners to develop, fund and operate healthcare management innovations that will assure access to quality care for thousands of uninsured and underinsured Central Texans.
- Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wyo., for its commitment to building partnerships that promote healthy, strong and safe communities throughout Laramie County, Wyoming and the surrounding areas.
- Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn., for its sponsorship, development and participation in a wide variety of community-based programs and services that benefit residents of New Haven and the surrounding region.