Tackling childhood obesity, improving the cardiovascular health of children, and expanding care for kids with diabetes and mental health issues have been areas of focus for Akron Children’s Hospital after a 2010 community health assessment showed them to be the top concerns of residents in Akron Children’s core service area.
In a recent filing with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Akron Children’s reported community benefits totaling more than $72.5 million in 2010. This includes programs and services targeted in these areas as well as numerous other pediatric health initiatives that have a positive impact on the physical and emotional health of children and teens in northeast Ohio.
“To focus our community benefits efforts, we conducted a health needs assessment with some of our community and healthcare partners,” said Bernett Williams, vice president for external affairs. “The results of the assessment have guided our decisions as we take the steps necessary to address the most urgent concerns.”
The hospital responds to the needs in various ways, including creating community-based “fitness clubs” to get kids moving, sponsoring annual summer camps for children and teens with diabetes, offering round-the-clock mental health assessments in the ER for children and teens in crisis, and partnering with other hospitals so children farther away from Akron can have access to pediatric cardiologists and other specialists.
“Our community benefits align with our mission to treat every child, regardless of financial circumstance,” said Williams. “But we also work hard to prevent children from ever walking through our doors. We do this through programs as diverse our health information line, our asthma and burn educators, and our injury prevention initiatives.”
Of the $72.5 million in total community benefits, Akron Children’s reported $54.1 million in unreimbursed Medicaid costs, $6.3 million in charity care and uncollectible accounts, $5 million spent on research and advocacy; $3.1 million spent on educating and training physicians, residents and fellows, students, interns and nurses; and $4 million spent on community outreach.
Akron conducted the community assessment, a survey of more than 1.3 million people who live in Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties, in conjunction with Akron General Health System and Summa Health System.
According to Williams, the results of the survey will continue to direct Akron Children’s community benefits efforts.
“We learned through the assessment that most people already know they need to make healthier choices in their daily lives, but they appreciate guidance from the healthcare community,” she said. “We know prevention – things like routine well-child visits, education and making sure families have access to healthy foods and safe places for children to play - can go a long way in keeping kids healthy and safe and reducing health care costs.”
Childhood obesity, mental health, diabetes targeted in community benefit efforts
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