UCC-related Advocate Aurora Health announced today a commitment to invest $50 million to help address economic, racial and environmental disparities that impact comunity health outcomes – positioning the organization among the first health systems in the country to make such a significant pledge to investing in targeted community development.
The commitment complements local purchasing efforts, hiring initiatives and other community benefit activity through a $50 million renewable investment pool, sometimes called place-based or impact investing. The health system will partner with community development financial institutions to deploy capital that drives meaningful local economic improvement initiatives, such as small and diverse business development, affordable housing expansion, and investments in federally qualified health centers and food centers, that ultimately address social determinants of health and achieve greater health equity.
“There is a known correlation between income and health status of communities. That’s why we’re focused on empowering the people and neighborhoods we’re so privileged to serve and opening new doors that help distressed communities to join the economic mainstream,” says Jim Skogsbergh, Advocate Aurora Health president and CEO. “Putting our resources to use in a way that addresses the root causes of inequity and provides a gateway to prosperity is a testament to our commitment to helping people live well both within and beyond our walls.”
Allocated over a five-year period, the investments will be targeted to low-income communities with lower life expectancy to address patients’ highest social needs, as factors outside hospital walls account for up to 80% of health outcomes. The first investments in Illinois and Wisconsin area organizations and businesses will be deployed in 2020.
“By our very nature, hospitals and health systems are anchor institutions in the neighborhoods we serve, and the well-being of our communities will always be an institutional priority,” says Cristy Garcia-Thomas, Advocate Aurora Health chief external affairs officer. “Through innovative and socially responsible hiring, training, purchasing and investment strategies, we can improve the economic factors that impact upstream determinants of health and lift local residents to strengthen our communities.”
CHHSM member Advocate Aurora Health is a member of the Healthcare Anchor Network, which supports health system efforts to accelerate learning and local implementation of economic inclusion strategies. The Healthcare Anchor Network announced this week that 13 other member organizations have made similar pledges, resulting in a total investment commitment of more than $700 million.
“Advocate Aurora Health has been a staunch supporter of initiatives to better serve their communities,” says Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO. “This investment by them is indicative of how CHHSM members can be a voice in creating a just, caring and compassionate world.”
CHHSM member Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States and a leading employer in the Midwest with more than 70,000 employees, including more than 22,000 nurses and the region’s largest employed medical staff and home health organization. A national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, the system serves nearly 3 million patients annually in Illinois and Wisconsin across more than 500 sites of care. Advocate Aurora is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies and is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology and pediatrics. The organization contributed $2.1 billion in charitable care and services to its communities in 2018.