Health Care Leaders Report Fewer Barriers to Development of Hospital Community Benefit Programs

More Expansion Plans Reported By Attendees Of The Catholic Health Association/VHA Inc. Community Benefit Conference

(July 21, 2008) - Not-for-profit hospitals are continuing to expand and strengthen their support of community benefit programs. Attendees of a recent community benefit conference reported that support from executive leadership has grown substantially since the last conference in 2006.

This finding is one of many from a survey conducted in conjunction with the "Making an Impact: Evidence-Based Community Benefit" conference sponsored by the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) and VHA Inc., in cooperation with the School of Public Health at Saint Louis University. The conference, the fourth such event, is held every two years to focus on sharing ideas and learnings with regard to components of community benefit programming.

"We are extremely encouraged to learn that executive leadership is more focused than ever on strengthening their hospital's community benefit programming," said Julie Trocchio, CHA senior director, continuing care ministries. "Each year we see increasingly greater support from hospital leadership."

"In this time of increased scrutiny of community benefit reporting, these survey results demonstrate our members' ongoing commitment to taking their community-focused missions seriously," noted Linda DeWolf, vice president at VHA.

Survey respondents reported adding new staff (21 percent), new partnerships (25 percent) and new programs (24 percent) in the past year to support community benefit efforts.

In addition to these improvements, when asked "what if anything is different in your organization's community benefit work within the past year," more than a third of respondents (36 percent) answered "additional attention from senior executives."

"The results clearly demonstrate that CHA and VHA members' community benefit programs continue to increase staff, programs and partnerships," Trocchio said. "The survey completed by a majority of the more than 200 meeting attendees also shows that community benefit programs are receiving greater support from boards and executive leadership, as well as more financial resources."

Community benefit programs continue to report an increase in programming, with almost half (47 percent) citing an increase "by any measure: amount spent, persons served, number of programs" over the past three years. Optimism about community benefit programs' future expansion remained high as well, with 46 percent of respondents expecting an increase in their community benefit program within the next three years. None of the respondents reported an anticipated decrease in their community benefit program.

Nearly half of the respondents (48 percent) reported community benefit programs that offer increased access to care "have the greatest impact in [their] community." Programs that offer health education or health promotion also ranked high, with 28 percent of respondents reporting those programs as having the greatest impact.


VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national health care alliance that provides industry-leading supply chain management services and supports the formation of regional and national networks to help members improve their clinical and economic performance. With 16 offices across the U.S., VHA has a track record of proven results in serving more than 1,400 not-for-profit hospitals and more than 21,000 non-acute care organizations nationwide.

The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), founded in 1915, supports the Catholic health ministry's pursuit of the strategic directions of mission, ethics, and advocacy. As the nation's largest group of not-for-profit sponsors, systems, and facilities, the ministry is committed to improving the health status of communities and creating quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone.