Research shows that the greatest influence on an individual’s health isn’t what occurs within a hospital or other healthcare facility. It’s the community and environment in which we live. From access to nutritious food, to safe and stable housing, to clean air and water, these community factors are the greatest determinants of health.
New Jersey hospitals invest billions of dollars each year in these community needs. That tally reached $3.4 billion in the latest Community Benefit report released by the New Jersey Hospital Association, reflecting 2020 data. More than 26 million individuals were served through these programs, which included food distributions, health screenings, anti-violence programs, mental health support, community vaccination clinics and free and discounted healthcare services for those without the means to pay.
And, in a time when facilities nationwide are facing an unprecedented shortage of healthcare workers, the data shows that New Jersey hospitals also invest heavily in educating future clinicians to care for the state’s residents, especially as our population ages.
The most recent data reflects the following statewide tallies of hospital community benefit:
$2 billion in unpaid costs of care delivered to patients – includes charity care for the uninsured, the unpaid costs of treating Medicare and Medicaid patients, and the costs of other care delivered without receiving payment
$43.2 million in community health improvement services – includes prevention, wellness and other services such as nutrition programs, clinics and health screenings
$224.1 million in health professions education – includes continuing education for today’s employees and graduate medical education for the next generation of healthcare professionals
$1.2 billion in other community benefit programs – includes initiatives that respond to a local need, such as investments in housing, local safety partnerships, or contributions to municipal services or community groups.
Hospitals’ community health efforts also help relieve the government’s burden for public health needs. That was especially notable in the response to COVID-19 as New Jersey hospitals: added new units to ensure the state would have enough hospital beds; opened COVID testing sites; and provided millions of vaccine doses at their own vaccination clinics and at the state’s vaccination mega-sites. These programs are not quantified in the community benefit totals, but as New Jersey has experienced during the pandemic, their impact is immeasurable in caring for residents and saving lives.
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