The Lee Memorial Health System contributed $311 million for the betterment of the community in fiscal year 2013, according to its recently released Annual Statement of Community Benefits Report. The report is a national standard of measurement that determines a monetary value for the health system's community commitment and the financial investments it makes to help strengthen health and human services. This $311 million contribution equals more than $852,000 every single day of the year.
"As one of the largest public health systems in the country, Lee Memorial Health System continues to provide healthcare services without any direct community tax support," said Jim Nathan, president of Lee Memorial Health System. "Our presence also goes well beyond medical care. We contribute greatly through educational programs and local partnerships with a variety of organizations for the betterment of the entire community."
Contributions include charity care and discounted care for the poor and uninsured, wellness programs, education, community health programs, unpaid Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the cost of providing special programs throughout the community.
As one of its many partnerships, Lee Memorial Health System collaborates with the Salvation Army in the WeCare program. WeCare physicians donate their time to provide specialty care to eligible patients who otherwise would not have access. The health system also partners with the United Way in the Dunbar, North Fort Myers and Cape Coral Offices of Lee Community Healthcare, which are available to low income and underinsured families, providing much needed access to primary care within the community.
Lee Memorial Health System initiatives are also helping to bring a culture of wellness through various means such as free health fairs held in local schools, shopping centers, businesses and art festivals; reaching people in the places where they live, work and play.
More than 40 physicians and health professionals donate their time to Lee Memorial Health System's Speakers' Bureau, connecting directly with patients through question-and-answer sessions held at local venues. Lee Memorial Health System employees also donate thousands of hours each year through leadership roles on various boards of directors, chambers of commerce, social services agencies and organizations.
Community benefit calculations are over and above the economic value that organizations like the health system provide each and every year through jobs and benefits and reinvestment into facilities, technologies, clinical programs and services. The methodology for calculating is used nationally.
Lee Memorial Health System continues to provide benefits to the community well in excess of the value of its tax exempt status. As a public, not-for-profit entity the health system was exempted from paying approximately $55 million in taxes for fiscal year 2013, an amount that is overwhelmingly outweighed by the $311 million the health system provided in benefits given back to the community.
Not-for-profit hospitals and health systems are required to provide community benefit reports and to research community health needs annually. Lee Memorial Health System has been doing this for many years prior to such a requirement.