By Annette Mercurio
City of Hope does not just care for patients in hospital rooms and clinics; it contributes significantly to well-being in the local region, according to a recently released report.
City of Hope’s 2007 Community Benefit Plan covers a variety of topics, ranging from City of Hope’s role in building a healthy community to the institution’s partnerships with other organizations to meet health needs.
California law requires that private, nonprofit hospitals, including City of Hope, submit such a report each year to the state to describe the community benefits they provide.
Community benefits encompass a wide range of hospital activities that address health needs identified by the community. City of Hope, for example, provides charity care, support groups, transportation services for patients and interpreter services, as well as health education programs such as the “Ask the Experts” series.
A common denominator among those activities: City of Hope funds them without reimbursement and provides them as a public service.
California’s community benefit law emerged in 1994 as an effort by nonprofit hospitals to fend off challenges to their tax-exempt status. Proponents believed that such reporting would demonstrate the full range of services provided by nonprofit hospitals in the public interest.
Community benefit plans must include the economic value of those services. In the 2006 fiscal year, the Medical Center provided about $70 million in quantifiable community benefits. City of Hope offers many more services not included in that total, as well.
As part of the process, private, nonprofit hospitals must assess the community’s health needs every three years. City of Hope will complete its next community needs assessment this year.
When City of Hope conducted its last assessment in 2004, participating community members gave input on needs related to cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and support. They identified language and cultural barriers as the greatest impediments to meeting the community’s cancer-related needs. Respondents cited a lack of language-specific support groups, materials and educational programs.
“Providers need to be culturally sensitive and provide translation services,” said one participant.
“There is a need for specialization of support groups to address cultural diversity. Most groups are conducted primarily in English,” said another. Others reported a lack of support services for Chinese and Latino patients and their families.
In response, City of Hope has improved collaboration among departments involved in community outreach, and the institution plans to partner with local organizations to develop strategies for expanding culturally and linguistically appropriate education and support services for cancer patients and their families.
This fall, for example, the Center of Community Alliance for Research and Education will host a Chinese Cancer Survivors conference.
City of Hope has been increasingly joining with community groups to organize events and initiatives. The institution partners with the City of Duarte, the Duarte Unified School District, the American Cancer Society, The Wellness Community, the Jackie Robinson Center and other organizations to improve community well being.
To learn more about community benefits, participate on the community outreach coordinating team or obtain a copy of the report, please contact Annette Mercurio at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 64888. More information about the Hospital Community Benefit Program also is available online through the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development's Health Information Division.