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Dallas County Hospital offers benefits to improve health, health care

Dallas County Hospital provides $1,607,629 in community benefits to Dallas County, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2012 figures, includes $1,499,434 in uncompensated care and $108,195 in free or discounted community benefits that Dallas County Hospital specifically implemented to help Dallas County residents.

Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to health care. Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services and transportation programs.

The results for Dallas County Hospital are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2012 valued at nearly $1.6 billion, including more than $641 million in charity care. All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey.

“Many of the community programs and services that were offered this past year by Dallas County Hospital were in direct response to the needs of the communities we serve,” said Matt Wille, Dallas County Hospital CEO. “Our mission, to improve the health of the people we serve, will continue to drive us to provide for our communities in ways that go beyond just the services we offer within our doors. As an organization dedicated to giving back, we are proud to be able to offer these programs to the residents of Dallas and surrounding counties.”

The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of individual communities as well as entire counties and regions. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital support and leadership, said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris.

But the ability of Iowa hospitals to respond to such needs is being affected as hospitals recover from the economic downturn as well as manage huge losses inflicted upon hospitals by Medicare and Medicaid, totaling more than $274 million (a 5.1 percent increase over last year’s report). More than 60 percent of all hospital revenue in Iowa comes from Medicare and Medicaid. Hospitals serving small, rural communities and counties are particularly dependent on the programs.

Iowa hospitals, which employ more than 70,000 people, continue implement strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care to individuals, addressing the health needs of identified populations and implementing process improvements that bend the cost curve. By seeking out ways to raise quality, reduce waste and increase safety, Iowa hospitals have become value leaders, as shown in multiple studies by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the Commonwealth Fund.

These efforts, along with IHA’s ongoing advocacy to create fairer payment methodologies from Medicare and Medicaid, help ensure the financial stability of hospitals, making it possible for them to provide the services and programs most needed by their communities.

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