The hospital includes such spending in its “community benefit” report for the health system as a whole. The health system has set a goal of providing 5 percent of its net patient revenues in the form of community benefits, he said.
“Even though Oklahoma doesn’t have that requirement, it is a standard that this organization at the board level that we will meet or exceed that threshold,” Steichen said.
St. Francis Health System reported community benefits of $54 million in 2012. The system includes three hospitals and Warren Clinic, a group of 325 physicians affiliated with the health system.
Varying levels of charity
Some hospitals with multiple locations report widely varying levels of charity care.
St. John Medical Center in Tulsa provided charity care well over the state average: 4.1 percent in 2011 and 5.1 percent in 2012.
However two hospitals affiliated with St. John — St. John Owasso and St. John Broken Arrow — reported providing charity care at less than 1 percent and just above that level in 2012.
Lex Anderson, chief financial officer for St. John Health System, said the numbers “might be a little understated.”
“To the extent that those hospitals can generate some profit, that’s profit that can be used to provide care for the poor at St. John Medical Center,” he said.
Anderson said he views charity care as part of the larger community benefit provided by the health system as a whole. That includes six hospitals as well as the health system’s 300 doctors and 100 advanced practitioners.
“We believe the amount of total community benefit we provide is probably, if not the highest, close to the highest in the state,” Anderson said.
St. John Medical Center, the system’s largest hospital, ranked No. 5 in the state in 2012 in percentage spent on charity care. The health system overall reported providing $83 million in community benefits in the last fiscal year, including support for graduate medical education and unreimbursed Medicaid costs.