St. Luke’s University Health Network has been identified by the Lown Institute for the second year in a row as the No. 1 health system in Pennsylvania for charitable giving.
St. Luke’s is the only health system in the Lehigh Valley with a “fair share” surplus, meaning it spends more on charity and community investment than it receives in tax breaks, according to Lown.
No hospital in Pennsylvania had a greater surplus than St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill. Five additional St. Luke’s hospitals – Anderson, Miners, Monroe and Upper Bucks campuses and Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital – were among the 20 hospitals in the state with a surplus.
“This report’s findings confirm St. Luke’s longstanding commitment to the communities we serve,” said St. Luke’s Vice President of Community Health Rajika Reed, PhD., MPH, MEd. “Our community-based initiatives include early childhood education, adolescent career development, employment assistance, workforce development and safe housing assistance as well as physical and mental health care.
“At St. Luke’s University Health Network, our culture and values dictate our deep investment and engagement in our communities, from downtown neighborhoods to rural enclaves – which is why St. Luke’s has been widely recognized nationally, regionally and locally for our service and dedication.”
The Lown Institute calculated fair share spending based on 2020 IRS Form 990. Fair share deficits and surpluses for each system were calculated by balancing the estimated value of hospital systems’ tax exemptions against the amount systems spent on charity care and community investment— including community health improvement activities, contributions to community groups, community building activities, and subsidized healthcare services.
St. Luke’s fair share surplus stands in stark contrast to the fair share deficits of the vast majority of other health care systems locally and across the country.
According to Lown research, St. Luke’s University Hospital spent $16,364,000 more on charity care and community investments than the estimated value of its tax exemption.
The other five St. Luke’s hospitals’ surpluses totaled nearly $12 million:
- Upper Bucks Campus ($5,810,000)
- Miners Campus ($2,994,000)
- Anderson Campus ($1,589,000)
- Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital ($754,000)
- Monroe Campus ($629,000)
Vikas Saini, M.D., president of the Lown Institute, said that given the growing crises in medical debt and chronic disease, “we need hospitals to give their fair share now more than ever. The hospitals topping our list have proven they have what it takes to be great community partners.”
Massachusetts-based Lown analyzed about 1,700 nonprofit hospitals and found 413, or about a quarter, to have a “fair share” surplus. The other 77% spent less on charity care and community investment and thus had a “fair share” deficit.
This is the second year Lown has calculated “fair share” spending. In its first report released last year, the Lown Institute calculated “fair share” spending based on 2019 IRS Form 990. For systems in which 2019 data were not available, data from 2018 were used.
In last year’s Lown report, St. Luke’s was the only health care system in Pennsylvania on Lown’s top-25 list of health care systems with “fair share” surpluses, ranking No. 16 nationally.
Dr. Reed noted that under the leadership of our President & CEO, Rick Anderson, St. Luke’s established the Network’s Community Health Department more than 25 years ago. Since then, the department has forged long-term meaningful partnerships with community-based organizations, government and business partners.
At St. Luke’s, Dr. Reed said, “we believe that heath care systems must be ready and willing to go wherever there is need in their communities. Take, for example, the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley. The Hispanic Center receives financial and logistical support from St. Luke’s, and during the worst of the Covid pandemic, our nurses and nursing students provided free Covid vaccinations and testing at the Center.”
Throughout St. Luke’s service area across 11 counties in two states, an array of other outreach projects are making a difference in people’s lives.
- St. Luke’s provides free lunches through its Summer Meals Program in Allentown and Quakertown, making sure no child goes without nutritious meals during the summer months.
- St. Luke’s and the Panther Valley School District partnered to begin holding a monthly food pantry to address food insecurity among families in the district. The food pantry provides eligible families with a consistent supply of nutritious perishable and non-perishable foods and beverages.
- St. Luke’s recently launched the area’s most advanced medical detox unit at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart in Allentown. In collaboration with Lehigh County and Treatment Trends, St. Luke’s played a role in establishing The Allentown Center for Recovery not far from Lehigh County Prison and the hospital last Spring. This new facility, in conjunction with the hospital’s services, allows St. Luke’s to establish comprehensive care for those seeking help.
- Across the street from the Sacred Heart Campus is the Sigal Center, a Star Community Health facility affiliated with St. Luke’s. The Sigal Center offers free and sliding-scale medical and dental care, mainly treating uninsured and poorly insured individuals. In partnership with St. Luke’s and many generous donors, a dental clinic was expanded to accommodate nearly twice as many patients as previously possible. Meanwhile, Star Community Health mobile dental vans and St. Luke’s medical vans deliver essential dental and primary care to school children who lack these basic yet vital services.
- In Allentown and Bethlehem, St. Luke’s Parish Nurse Program focuses on homeless and near-homeless populations, offering routine medical care, food and clothing. During the COVID epidemic, the Parish Nurses arranged for homeless people to quarantine comfortably in a local motel after testing positive for the virus.
- The Parish Nurses and the Laundromat Ministries collaborate to staff a bi-weekly free laundry night. The teams distribute meals while providing medical care such as checkups for acute and chronic conditions, using the mobile vans. St. Luke’s medical students, many of whom attend the Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine tuition-free in exchange for committing to practice medicine in the Lehigh Valley after graduation, volunteer with this initiative to experientially learn about their community.