South Florida Hospital News
Friday August 23, 2019
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June 2007 - Volume 3 - Issue 12

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Philanthropy Offers Solutions for Healthcare, Return on Investment for Donors

Philanthropy is playing a significant and expanding role in healthcare as diminishing resources force non-profit providers of all sizes to develop new funding sources. Traditional sources of revenue are increasingly insufficient for hospitals and other health organizations struggling with growing numbers of uninsured persons, workforce shortages and costly compliance with regulations. With strained finances and thinning operating margins, many healthcare executives cite a growing reliance on foundations as one of the industryís foremost trends.

"Health care philanthropy is much more important today," says Rolando Rodriguez, President and CEO of Jackson Memorial Foundation (JMF), the foundation for the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. "Hospitals are being squeezed from all sides, and philanthropy can make the operating margins better. Itís an essential aspect of healthcare. In the past, hospital foundations raised money for equipment, but thatís the old paradigm. Foundations have a broader mission in the current environment."

Hospital-based, private and public foundations are vital to improving quality of care, access, safety and disease prevention. Foundations respond to the health needs of vulnerable, underserved populations and pioneer advances in care, research and technology, taking a more hands-on approach than in the past.

JMF helps Jacksonís comprehensive system of facilities by funding diverse initiatives like the International Kids Foundation and specialized centers such as Ryder Trauma Center. As a public hospital, Jackson receives funds from Miami-Dade County Public Health Trust, but its mission to provide care, regardless of ability to pay, means that its financial needs exceed its resources. Rodriguez says that the public may wrongly assume that a public hospital doesnít need to do fundraising, but he believes that hospitals can no longer survive without foundation support.

"Weíre a strong partner and we serve the hospitals needs, whatever they are," he says. "Weíre no longer simply a go-to department; weíre part of the planning process. We also initiate projects on our own. Beautifying the environment, for example, is an aspect of customer service with benefits beyond appearance. In studies, patients correlate environment and compassion with good care. We need to attract private patients to Jackson and those factors appeal to them. Environment also matters in staff satisfaction and retention."

Rodriguez is enthusiastic about the relationship between the medical center and the foundation. "The hospital has embarked on a huge plan for the future, which challenges us here at the foundation. This vision is driving us; it means that we canít think in small terms. Itís no longer about day-to-day operations and survival but about re-defining ourselves for the future. Jackson is more than a hospital; itís a community lifeline. We have incredible hopes for the future here."

Rodriguez says that todayís philanthropists have different expectations and make donations more selectively. This trend, known as investment philanthropy, is also impacting public and private foundations. Steven Marcus, Ed.D. President and CEO of Health Foundation of South Florida (HFSF), agrees that donors are looking for a return on investment, in terms of social change. "The trend is from charitable giving to socially responsible investing. Charitable giving is giving in the moment, but todayís donors want to see how their money makes a difference."

Unlike hospital foundations that support their own facilities, HFSF funds grant proposals from health organizations throughout South Florida. "One of our priorities is to support the front lines of health care, the safety net organizations that provide primary care," says Marcus. "Access is extremely important and the pressure there to find resources is much greater. We have a strong sense of community responsibility and focus on health promotion and disease prevention. Improved health status of our regions residents is our goal."

According to Marcus, HFSF tries to leverage innovative programs that add value to the delivery of health services and promise the biggest impact. "Grant applicants should include best practices, a successful strategy for implementing them and evidence based outcomes. We offer planning grants and provide encouragement and monitoring throughout the grant process. We want all funded projects to succeed." Among the projects that HFSF has funded is a Senior Immunization project, a Management and Technology Capacity Building program and Physical Activity and After-School Programs for youth. The foundation incubated the South Florida Health Information Initiative, with $480,000 from the state of Florida, to promote the electronic medical record and facilitate better tracking of quality and safety.

Both Marcus and Rodriguez believe that in the future, foundations will be major catalysts for change in healthcare. "Foundations will be even more important and there will be more of them. Last year, 3,000 new foundations were created. Studies of wealth transfer indicate that in the next five decades, $40 trillion will be transferred," says Marcus. "Philanthropy should partner with government, business and the non-profit sector to establish the best approaches and models for the most effective delivery of healthcare services."

Rolando Rodriguez can be reached at rdrodriguez@med.miami.edu or (305) 585-8859.
Steven Marcus can be reached at smarcus@hfsf.org or (305) 374-7200.
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