Community health needs a priority for local healthcare organization - Cape Cod Healthcare

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Published on December 07, 2021

Community health needs a priority for local healthcare organization

Community Benefits

A new three-year cycle will kick off for Cape Cod Healthcare’s (CCHC) Community Benefits program, which invested $30 million in the local community in fiscal year 2021.

At a recent open meeting in Hyannis, Christopher M. Lawson, CCHC senior vice president and chief development officer, reviewed what had been accomplished so far in the most recent cycle and the initial steps for the next cycle.

As a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, CCHC is committed to allocate 3-5% of net patient services revenue annually in its Community Benefits program. This commitment includes a special focus on the unmet needs of the financially disadvantaged and underserved populations in the region.

In FY21, that meant $23 million in pro bono care for the most vulnerable residents of Cape Cod, as well as $7 million in funding for local organizations and Cape Cod Healthcare programs that addressed community needs identified in the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment. Those organizations included A Baby Center, the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, the Duffy Center, and many others.

Community speakers from a Falmouth homeless shelter, Cape Cod Children's Place and the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman Alliance spoke at the open meeting and thanked CCHC for previous Community Benefit funding.

"Cape Cod Healthcare made it possible for our fishing community to support the rest of our community in a really kind of wonderful way," Seth Rolbein, Director of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, a program of the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman's Alliance, said at the meeting.

"After COVID, we reached out to our fishermen and got them involved in our program that was creating a haddock chowder that was being distributed to food banks and food pantries, first across Cape Cod, then across Massachusetts, then across New England,” he said. The program kept fishermen on the water and was able to serve almost 750,000 servings of haddock chowder, all made locally, he said.

"We couldn't have done it without this organization's understanding that the concept of community health and community benefit embraces the community in different ways. So, that's why I'm here, I just want to say thank you," said Rolbein.

In an organizational change, the Cape Cod Healthcare Community Benefits program was brought under the direction of the CCHC Foundation in September 2020.

“I think that was a really good move,” said Lawson. “We are one of the external faces of Cape Cod Healthcare. We're in the community constantly with the main function of raising money, but we meet a lot of people along the way – people who have a real interest in making Cape Cod a healthier, better and more inclusive space.”

The next Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) process will begin in January with the goal of having it finished by September. That document will guide Community Benefits giving for the years 2023-2025.

Lawson expects the survey to reveal similar community needs as 2020-2022, with substantial funding related to behavioral health, substance use and housing, among other priorities. The program is flexible enough to deal with unpredictable needs, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we're looking for is to be as impactful as possible with our funds, knowing that there's a finite amount of money, and there are a lot of different areas that need support,” said Lawson.

The CHNA process will be overseen by a committee of 14 community leaders, chaired by CCHC trustee Sharon Kennedy. This group has many community and civic leaders with a strong level of expertise and geographic reach across Cape Cod, according to Lawson.

“We appreciate the relationships we have with the folks in this room, and we look forward to building relationships with the folks that we're just getting to know a little bit better,” Lawson told those in attendance at the meeting. “Everything that we talk about in this room gets brought up at a high level, and Cape Cod Healthcare takes this role and this activity very seriously.”

Learn more about just a few of the programs funded recently by the CCHC Community Benefits program:

Cape Cod and Islands Maternal Depression Task Force

Helping Our Women

Association to Preserve Cape Cod

Cape Wellness Collaborative