Health happens in the places Missourians live, work, learn and play. However, the factors that contribute to health are not equally represented in every community — good housing, and access to healthy food, transportation and health care services, for example. Researchers believe that these social determinants of health have significant influence on wellness.
Missouri’s hospitals are community-based institutions that aspire to provide health, as well as care. All hospitals provide community benefits and investments in health improvement as determined by the needs of the communities they serve.
Mercy Hospital Aurora
Generational poverty is high throughout the Ozarks. In Lawrence County, Mo., nearly one in seven residents live in poverty — higher than the Missouri and national average. Partnering with Project RISE, a local nonprofit, Mercy Hospital Aurora purchased curriculum for financial and life skills training to reduce economic disparities.
As an anchor institution in St. Louis City, BJC HealthCare works with existing local partners, leveraging resources to build community infrastructure, expand opportunities to launch small businesses and shrink the disparities that lead to poor health.
North Kansas City Hospital
Substance use disorder, fentanyl use and overdose deaths were identified as a priority health issue in Kansas City’s Northland. North Kansas City Hospital, a Narcan distribution hub, partnered with local institutions — including schools — to educate the community about the danger of fentanyl, share the importance of having Narcan accessible to reverse overdose, and provide a supply to community institutions and individuals where an intervention could save a life.
In 2021, hospitals provided more than $1 billion in charity care. At the same time, bad debt dropped below the 2018 level to nearly $613 million.
Hospitals also benefit their communities by absorbing unpaid costs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, educating and training the health care workforce, and donating to local causes. When combined with uncompensated care, these investments are part of their community benefit contributions, which in 2021, totaled more than $3.1 billion.
Hospitals also serve as important contributors to community economic stability. In 2021, Missouri hospitals employed approximately 164,000 workers, investing nearly $13 billion in payroll and benefits statewide. They also invested nearly $1.6 billion in various capital improvement projects. These investments ripple throughout the economy, creating household income, opportunities to support and build businesses, and increasing revenue for state and local governments.