Advocate Aurora Health Charitable Care and Services Total for 2020 Exceeded $2.5 Billion
Advocate Aurora Health contributed over $2.5 billion in charitable care and services in 2020, a 16 percent increase over 2019. A November 2021 story reports that as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the health system’s community health efforts shifted and transformed to meet the most urgent needs, while also remaining committed to its bedrock programs, such as charity care, education, trauma services, behavioral health services and more.
As the worst pandemic in more than a century hit our communities in early 2020, Advocate Aurora’s team members and resources pivoted to provide critical community support including education and outreach, mobile testing and partnerships with federally qualified health centers, especially as it became clear that COVID-19 disproportionately impacted communities of color. The system enhanced preventive services by increasing access to health education, personal protective equipment and community COVID-19 testing, among other initiatives.
“Advocate Aurora is not just committed to enhancing the health and wellness of those in our care, but to improving the quality of life for our communities aligned with our purpose to help people live well,” said President and CEO Jim Skogsbergh. “The diverse programs we support reflect the changing and varied needs within our neighborhoods as we work to close the health equity gap and amplify our social impact.”
In addition to a robust COVID-19 response, Advocate Aurora’s community health strategy remained focused on services and partnerships that build health equity, ensure access and improve health outcomes. Programs around mental and behavioral health, violence prevention, trauma recovery services, access to care, diabetes and hypertension, maternal health/infant mortality, obesity, substance use, food security, safety and workforce development were top priorities across the system’s footprint in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Sites across both states committed to programs to eliminate food insecurity and increase access to nutritious staples by collaborating with community service groups and faith partners.
“We know food insecurity is associated with poor health outcomes and is linked to obesity, increased risk of chronic disease and malnutrition,” said Chief External Affairs Officer Cristy Garcia-Thomas. “These programs help to eliminate barriers to patients’ and community members’ ability to access healthy food, ultimately leading to improved health.”
These efforts helped many thousands of individuals and families across Illinois and Wisconsin. In 2020, Advocate Aurora Community Health, along with community partners, distributed 395,000 pounds of fresh produce and stable shelf food to nearly 29,000 people in economically challenged Illinois neighborhoods. In Wisconsin, Advocate Aurora partnered with Aurora Family services to provide 3,100 families vouchers to purchase food for a home-prepared Thanksgiving meal; gave 572 meals to discharged Advocate Aurora food-insecure patients in conjunction with Sheboygan Meals on Wheels; and served nearly 10,000 individuals through the Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental Nutrition Program at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, among many other examples.
Community safety remains a top priority, as well. To better address the needs of individuals who are disproportionately exposed to community safety issues, Advocate Aurora offers several services including a Forensic Nurse Examiner and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (FNE/SANEs) programs. FNE/SANEs, specially trained and state-certified nurse examiners located in hospitals in both Illinois and Wisconsin, provide compassionate, trauma-informed care to victims of violence seeking care in the emergency department. In 2020, Advocate Aurora provided FNE/SANE services to 864 adults and 480 children.
Advocate Aurora Health is one of the largest providers of community care, outreach and education in Illinois and Wisconsin. Community benefit contributions in 2020 included:
- Charity and other uncompensated care that is provided free, at subsidized levels or without full reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid or other government-sponsored programs.
- Subsidized health services that respond to unique community needs, including trauma services, behavioral health services, health screenings, immunization programs, school-based health care and other community outreach programs.
- Community Health Improvement Education Services and Operations including counseling, screenings, support groups, self-help, transportation, health education, school-based health centers, Faith Community Nursing that provides holistic care by connecting patients to spiritual and community resources in addition to health education, and a mobile pediatric clinic and mobile integrated health program that expand access to care beyond hospital settings,, plus many other hospital-based community programs.
- Language assistance and interpreter services, as well as translation for signage, forms, brochures, patient education materials and information in languages other than English.
- Volunteer Services provided by hospital workers who volunteer in their communities and by community members who volunteer at Advocate Aurora hospitals.
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