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Via Christi's community benefit tops $77.8 million in fiscal year 2016

Via Christi community benefit

Ascension Via Christi, a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and not-for-profit healthcare system, provided $77.8 million in community benefit in the 2016 fiscal year, providing free medical care to those in need, educating healthcare professionals and supporting community health efforts in Wichita, Pittsburg, Manhattan and Wamego.

In reporting its community benefit, Ascension Via Christi follows the guidelines set by the Catholic Health Association, which calls for community benefit to be reported at the health system’s cost of providing those services, rather than the amount billed. The CHA guidelines are similar to guidelines set by the American Hospital Association and the Internal Revenue Service for reporting Community Benefit. However, the AHA allows for reporting bad debt and unpaid costs of Medicare services. If bad debt and unpaid costs of Medicare services were included, Ascension Via Christi’s total benefit to the community would equal $114.6 million.

Via Christi’s total of $77.8 million in community benefit includes $44.5 million in charity care. It also includes $7.9 million in unpaid costs of Medicaid services. In Wichita, Via Christi provided $66.6 million in community benefit, including $40.2 million in charity care.

“Our mission is to help ensure that everyone, particularly our community’s most vulnerable, has access to quality healthcare, which we do through our charity care, community outreach, education and services,” said Mike Mullins, president and chief executive officer for Ascension Via Christi and senior vice president of Ascension. “We work actively within the communities we serve to create and support programs that expand access to care for people who are poor or otherwise underserved.”

In addition to charity care for patients with inadequate financial means and unpaid costs of Medicaid services, Via Christi’s overall fiscal year 2016 community benefit included: 

  • More than $2.1 million in subsidized health services provided by our specialty and family practice clinics, and other subsidized health services.
  • Nearly $20.2 million in training for physicians, nurses and other health professionals.
  • More than $3 million in other services, such as support of community clinics, health screenings, research, community building activities and donations of space to community organizations.

Community benefit must meet at least one of the following criteria: improve access to health services, enhance community health, advance medical knowledge or demonstrate charitable purpose. Via Christi provides community benefit by responding to the medical needs of special populations, such as the frail elderly, poor persons with disabilities, the chronically mentally ill, and persons with AIDS; or supplying services or programs that would likely be discontinued if the decision were made on a purely financial basis.

What we do

Examples of Via Christi’s community benefit in the Wichita area include: 

Dispensary of Hope: The outpatient pharmacies at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and Ascension Medical Group Via Christi on Murdock both serve as a Dispensary of Hope, providing surplus medications from manufacturers, distributors and physicians to uninsured patients as part of a national safety net. More than 2,030 patients were helped in fiscal year 2016.

Transitional Care Clinic: Established in 2014, the clinic helps patients who do not have a primary care provider or cannot be seen by their provider within seven days after they are discharged from the hospital. These patients are referred to the clinic, which helps them transition from the hospital to home or other facility for ongoing care using a multi-disciplinary team to provide primary medical care, support and encouragement. The goal is to ensure a safe and smooth transition to a primary care provider as well as to help patients access the community resources they need to follow their plan of care and avoid unnecessary readmissions to the hospital. In the clinic’s first year and a half, it has helped reduce inpatient admissions and Emergency Room visits among these patients by 93 percent.

Heart Failure Clinic: The Via Christi Heart Failure Clinic serves patients with a new heart failure diagnosis, those with risk factors for hospital admission, those suffering from medical conditions in addition to heart failure, have poor social networks, or are advanced in age. The program teaches symptom control, maximizes medical and device therapy and prevents avoidable hospital admissions or ER visits.  

Gerard House: For more than 25 years, Via Christi’s Gerard House has provided a nurturing shelter for young women during their pregnancies and for a few months after delivery as they decide whether to keep and raise their children or place them with adoptive couples. Here they receive the medical care they need for a healthy pregnancy, learn life skills to become good parents and independent adults, and find help completing and furthering their education. Gerard House also provides psychological, spiritual and adoption counseling to its residents. It’s the only state-licensed maternity home in the Wichita area that serves young women in the juvenile justice and foster care systems, and the only maternity home in Wichita that serves all in need, regardless of ability to pay.

About Ascension Via Christi