Here for You as a Community Partner

BayCare mobile clinicIn the mid-1990s, leaders of several Tampa Bay not-for-profit hospitals saw challenges looming for the health care industry. They believed that rising costs, increasing government regulation and competition from for-profits would make it difficult for stand-alone, not-for-profit hospitals to survive and deliver high-quality health care to all patients, including those unable to pay for their care. These visionary leaders came together to sacrifice some of their own institutions’ autonomy and create a new not-for-profit entity, BayCare Health System, to operate all their hospitals under one umbrella.

BayCare is community-grown. We don’t have outside owners or shareholders demanding ever-higher profits, so we can be laser-focused on providing exceptional care to the communities of Tampa Bay and West Central Florida. If someone gets sick but doesn’t have the resources to pay for treatment, BayCare, true to its not- for-profit roots, helps them out. Simply put, BayCare exists to serve the community.

During 2019, one way that BayCare served the community was by providing $461 million in “Community Benefit,” a term that describes the services a health care system provides to individuals and communities without being paid. BayCare’s services include charity care, community health screenings, education of health care professionals and sponsorships.

BayCare wants its Community Benefit contributions to go where they are needed most. So, in 2019, BayCare reached out to its health care competitors and the local departments of health in the West Central Florida market with an unprecedented proposal: Let’s combine our efforts and work together to find out what the residents of our communities need the most to help them live healthier, happier lives.

Spotlight: Learning the Community’s Needs

Anyone who does much driving around the Tampa Bay area knows that although Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Polk counties bump up against each other, they have very different characteristics and demographics. If a health care system that serves all four counties wanted to focus its efforts on what residents need most, how would it figure out what’s needed?

The federal government requires that all not-for-profit health care systems do a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every few years to identify, prioritize and address pressing needs in its service area. Typically, each system does its own CHNA, but in 2019, BayCare realized that if all the not-for-profit health systems serving those four counties worked together, the results could be much more substantial.

In the Forefront

BayCare led the way to an unprecedented collaboration by six area health care systems—most of them competitors—and the local departments of health to survey residents of the four counties about their needs. Almost 20,000 people completed questionnaires about their health, access to care, lifestyles and community concerns.

Then health and community leaders from each county met in hours-long sessions to examine the survey results and additional information. They determined that the three most pressing health issues in the West Central Florida region are:

1) mental health and substance use
2) access to health care services
3) exercise, nutrition and weight

Formalizing the Collaboration

The health systems went a step further, forming the All4HealthFL Collaborative. They agreed to work together to create programs that will address those three top health needs.

The goal: to make the lives of the people we serve healthier, longer and less of a struggle.

“We learned that even though there’s a history of competition among the entities involved, when you bring people together, a lot of energy is created to improve health,” said Lisa Bell, BayCare Community Benefit manager. “The process has left me and my team and our partners with a great sense of accomplishment.”

The three most pressing health issues in the West Central Florida region are:

1) Mental health and substance use
2) Access to health care services      
3) Exercise, nutrition and weight