Woven into the fabric of BayCare is the steadfast belief that everyone deserves the same access to high-quality care, regardless of their ability to pay. BayCare’s size and financial stability enable us to stay true to our not-for-profit, community-based roots.
Every year, we provide care – in the form of community benefit – to uninsured and underinsured patients. Many might not receive the care they needed without the safety net that BayCare provides.
Community benefit includes charity care, Medicaid and other income-based programs, and unbilled community services, such as health professional education, community health services, cash and contributions to community groups and other services. All of these are measured in unreimbursed costs.
In 2016, our total community benefit was $346 million or 9.4 percent of operating revenue. In 2017, that figure went up to $391 million or almost 10 percent of operating revenue.
Every three years, we also conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment to determine the most pressing health needs of our communities. The most recent assessment identified access to health care services as the most pressing need.
BayCare has responded by offering, among other things, an impressive roster of health screening events: 188 events in 2017, with 4,686 people seen. Our Community Health team’s 30 members conduct screenings and dispense health education wherever there is a need and, when indicated, will refer screening participants for ongoing health care.
“Improving the health of the community, both inside our clinical facilities and across our neighborhoods, is part of our DNA and fundamental to why our team members get up every day and go to work,” said Keri Eisenbeis, BayCare’s director of Government Relations and Community Outreach.
Bringing Health to the Community
Leaders at Clearwater’s Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church needed help to organize a community-wide health fair for residents of the North Greenwood neighborhood near the church.
They reached out to BayCare’s Faith Community Nursing (FCN) program for help. Together, they pulled in other community groups and BayCare entities whose involvement could help North Greenwood, including Gulf Coast Dental Outreach, the Juvenile Welfare Board, RCS, the Turley Family Health Center and the St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety Center.
“Many of these residents are low income and many probably don’t get health care,” said Rev. James V. Williams, Mt. Olive’s pastor for the past seven years. “If people don’t have health, their whole life is impacted. We’re grateful that BayCare is so open to just come and share all they have with the community.”
When the doors opened for the free North Greenwood Community Health Fair on a Saturday in October 2017, visitors were welcomed by more than 20 beaming BayCare Faith Community Nurses.
“It was great to be accepted there. I thought it was a great door opener,” said FCN Supervisor Susan Fontaine. “Lives were changed that day, not just physically, but mentally.”
Neighborhood residents stepped up to tables staffed by dozens of BayCare team members: Community Health nurses who checked blood pressure and tested for cholesterol and pre-diabetes; educators from BayCare’s Morton Plant Mease diabetes education program; health care navigators to help them sign up for health insurance; nutrition educators who offered advice about inexpensive ways to improve their diets; physicians who answered questions; members of the BayCare Pastoral Care program who provided information about advance directives; and representatives of BayCare Behavioral Health.
“God blessed us with the relationship with BayCare,” said Dr. Joseph Smiley, a prominent member of the Mt. Olive congregation. BayCare, he says, “brought a Christ-like spirit for helping to the table.”