Providence Alaska annual community report

Our community benefit investments are an important and visible way we live out our Mission of service, compassion and healing. Our Providence family of organizations is dedicated to creating health care access for everyone and improving the health of our communities. Our community benefit program identifies unmet needs and responds with tailored investments designed to improve health and well-being and is central to how we care for our populations.

For the 2020 Alaska annual report, Nathan Johnson, Regional Director of Community Health Investment for Providence Alaska, sat down with Lindsie Mills, Grants Manager at Providence Alaska Foundation, to discuss how Providence is helping build healthy communities in Alaska. 

Below we have included some options for you to learn more about our community benefit investments in Alaska. 

Watch

 

Listen

 

Read

Below is a raw transcript from the conversation Lindsie had with Nathan. 

Lindsie:

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our live stream discussion. Today is Wednesday, June 16. We are going to be talking through our annual report and community benefit programs for Alaska for 2020. 

Thank you all so much for being here. My name is Lindsie Mills. I serve as grants manager at Providence Alaska foundation. And joining me is Nathan Johnson. Nathan, would you like to introduce yourself? 

Nathan:

Thanks, Lindsay. My name is Nathan Johnson. I'm a Regional Director of Community Health investment for Providence, Alaska. And I have oversight of our Community Health Needs Assessments or health improvement planning in the community, and the stewardship of our community partnership funding our community benefit to the community. 

Lindsie:

Thanks, Nathan. Yeah, and as I mentioned, Lindsey Mills, I serve in the foundation, and I have a unique opportunity to partner closely with Nathan on our community partnership funding that is funding that is given into the community as part of our community benefit to impact community health needs that have been identified in our assessments. We have a really unique partnership in Alaska and that space, and we're very pleased to be here with you all today. So I think we might start talking a little bit about why Providence participates in community benefit programming in Alaska and across our system.  

Lindsie:

One of the most important reasons why we participate in community benefit programming is because it is part of our mission. Our mission is to be an expression of God's healing love, as witnessed through the ministry of Jesus, we steadfastly serve all especially those who are poor and vulnerable. And that mission is important, it means that we serve our patients and our community at large, both inside and outside of our hospital walls. And so we can't do it alone. We need community partnerships, we need collaboration to be able to do that, to be able to fulfill our mission. And so we are very pleased to be able to participate in community benefit programming. In addition, it's also the basis for tax exemption. As a nonprofit health care organization in exchange for our tax exempt status, we are expected to provide benefits to the communities in which we serve. We document all of that sort of for compliance purposes, on the form 990-schedule H, which we complete annually. It documents our community benefit activities, how we allocate our community benefit resources, and we are cognizant of making sure that we are contributing to the community at or above the level of which we are exempt from taxes. So just in 2020 for example, we contributed about $77 million in community benefits, including 8 million in community health improvement partnership funding, 14 million in education, 13 million in subsidized health services, 15 million in free and discounted care, and 27 million in unpaid cost of Medicaid, and other means tested government programs. And then in addition to that, we also contributed 26 million in property and payroll taxes. That's the sort of the offset there anything to add to that, Nathan.  

Nathan:

No, that was excellent. Thank you.   

Lindsie:

Sure. Would you want to talk through Nathan, maybe some of the highlights from the community benefit programs in Alaska? 

Nathan: 

Yeah, absolutely. And I might go ahead and speak to how that relates to our collaboration because I think it fits together nicely. So oh my goodness, speaking about our impact in the community benefits space and some of the programs that we support. I would say some of our most very notable are around homelessness. Providence, Alaska has always been very deeply committed in the homeless space. And I think there's nothing more notable or exemplary of that fact is that we have been providing meal service from the cafeteria at the hospital to Brother Francis shelter for better than 30 years, and they have historically had 240 guests per night. And every night for the last 30 years, Providence has driven meals for those 240 guests from the Providence cafeteria. But that is just the very tip of the iceberg. I would say. One of the most exciting journeys we've been on is since 2015. We have been investing between two and a half and $3 million dollars a year, just recently, we committed to a $15,000,000-dollar 5-year investment in homelessness. And as you know, over this past six years, the influence that our partnership and our collaboration in our funding has had in really being a game changer, helping build out the infrastructure, helping of the homeless response system, helping connect all the providers together. Our support building out the infrastructure of the coalition to end homelessness, and their data capabilities, as you know, has is brought us national attention. We've seen successes in Anchorage that were due to our investment. Amazon, the Bezos Foundation has given $5 million to one of our key partners Catholic social services to serve families in Rapid Rehousing. A program that we started six years ago, that it was our dollars and our involvement in the community the brought this about so that we really helped bring about that $5 million dollar gift. Similarly, Bezos foundation gave $500,000 to the coalition to end homelessness. So our story there has been a tremendous one, which has culminated in our being invited into a national pilot around healthcare and homelessness with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Community Solutions. Again, another organization that was acknowledged by the MacArthur Foundation, just recently with $100 million dollar grant because they were seen as being some of the most cutting edge nationally in the homeless space. And what that translates into all of that system work is really work on the ground. And I would say, our family Rapid Rehousing that I just mentioned, is a very powerful program. In fact, I recently learned a story of a couple who I had seen at assembly meetings advocating on behalf of the homeless. And I learned that they were both formerly homeless in their teens, and they had met one another come out of homelessness falling back in and Alaska. And I learned that it was through our Rapid Rehousing housing program that they found housing just a little over a year ago. And they found their feet. And now the wife is working at Covenant House, the husband started a business, which is a landscaping business, and they are hiring homeless individuals to help them transition out of homelessness. And my favorite part is that they just had a baby boy, who is born into a home and not homeless, and as you know, the transgenerational nature of homelessness is really an onerous problem. And it's a beautiful story, and I can say that it was really Providence's commitments, partnership and investment that brought that about. And I would like to highlight maybe a couple other programs just to elucidate not only our commitment, but really that we do this work in partnership with the community that we seek to convene them. 

Nathan:

We saw a problem around 2017. It's been a long standing problem of individuals who are experiencing homelessness if they are admitted to the hospital, and they need further care afterwards. They have no place no safe place to discharge. And it was one of our home health nurses. And managers that saw this problem and literally single handedly, with few resources and just a lot of will internally stood up two beds at the brother Francis shelter for a homeless respite program where individuals experiencing homelessness could be discharged. And she did the proof of concept almost single handedly. But with again, Providence resources, we wanted to see if we could make this pencil out and work. And once we found that we could do this and it benefits to the individuals in the shelter. And in the hospitals, we went to Alaskan Native Medical Center, and Alaska Regional Hospital. And we have entered into a partnership with them and Catholic social services now to support a 10 bed program in the shelter, which is tremendously successful. I would just say the highlights of our community benefit and our involvement in the community are so many, but really, in this homeless space, what we have done as a convener and collaborating with community partners. I think this left a tremendous week and had a tremendous impact and something I'm very proud of, and I know that you are as well, that we walk hand in. So Lindsie that collaboration extends beyond just our programmatic and the work that I just spoke up, it also really relates to our philanthropy and the Providence Alaska foundation. So maybe you can speak a little bit more about philanthropy’s role in serving the Providence mission and in this space. 

Lindsie:

Sure, yeah. Thanks, Ben, I am happy to talk about this. That's just one of my passion. I'm equally passionate about this work as well. I love that. Philanthropy In its most literal definition is the love of humankind. And it is directly connected and correlated to our mission, which is to be expressions of God's healing love, especially to those who are born vulnerable. So donors, or philanthropists, or anyone who's giving to Providence, is and are being expressions of God's healing love through their generosity. And in particular, during this pandemic, I really saw just from my role at the Foundation, the huge impact that philanthropy had across our state and also within Providence. Both in supportive recovery and response efforts and outpourings of meal donations and donations of personal protective equipment, volunteer hours and just sort of this outpouring of love of generosity. And in addition to that, at the same time, you know, within Providence as we were responding to the pandemic and in our healthcare space, we also were seeing across our state jobless claims soaring and agencies who were experiencing record numbers of families and individuals who are experiencing food insecurity. And we actually engaged our caregivers around that and said, you know, is something that you want to be involved in- Do you want to give? Do you want to make an impact to create food security for our community? Our caregivers responded in really remarkable ways. We engaged them actually twice, once very early in the pandemic and then once again around the Thanksgiving timeframe, Thanksgiving season and ask them if they will be interested in donating a portion of their paycheck to help families and individuals who may otherwise not have a meal at the end of the day and the outpouring of support from amongst our own community was really amazing. Not just caregivers within Providence, but other community members of their community organizations got involved. The St. Joseph community partnership fund, who is the sister philanthropic organization to us got involved and Providence matched those gifts. In 2020, we contributed over $700,000 dollars between all of those different mechanisms. We are really fortunate to live in such a generous community. And we are so fortunate to be able to kind of like what you were just talking about partner in really impactful ways for a collective impact, for a collective need and that ability to especially this past year, during the pandemic to just be nimble and responsive, and provide love to our community was really heartwarming. 

Nathan:

So you just spoke to our responsiveness in how we've had an ongoing commitment around food insecurity, but last year, we took it to a whole other level of order of magnitude with our contributions in the caregiver and community.  So that's a good example of that responsiveness. But for the longer-term planning, I was just thinking about this, this collaborative space in the foundation I couldn't help but think of Alaska Cares, and I would love for you to share that story. 

Lindsie:

Yeah, for sure. Alaska Cares is another incredible example of community and collaboration in our state. We are so fortunate to have a legacy of the sisters dating all the way back to 1902, when they first came to Nome to care for the gold mining community, and then into Fairbanks in 1910, in Anchorage in 1938, and on into now our critical access hospital communities and Kodiak, conservative LD’s and other locations as well. We are so fortunate we have received those sorts of invitations to come into those communities and have responded with providing, providing care, and that's been really wonderful. Alaska Cares is our child abuse response and evaluation services program. It's a Children's Advocacy Center, it is the largest in the state. It is located in Anchorage. And our Children's Advocacy Center, Alaska Cares is a multidisciplinary center. It is co-located with several other service providers, South Central Foundation, Forensic Nursing Services of Providence, which cares for the adult populations, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as the Office of children's services. The Alaska State Troopers in the anchorage police department are all co-located in one location. It is an absolute best practice model for how to respond and care for this particularly vulnerable population in our community. And it is something that Providence has been involved with since the late 90s. In 2000 just in the last few years here identified a need for a new home for Alaska Cares. So, again we started collaborating with the community to help us identify and help us house them permanently. And how is that program permanently and super fortunate to have support from again. South Central Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, ConocoPhillips, Alaska, and many other individuals and organizations who helped build this new home, that is now a permanent space for them to provide care and to fulfill our mission. So that's a fun example or a really meaningful example. 

Nathan:

It is, I think the foundation led the charge in getting that community commitment and funding, to match or to be the other part of the capital required to build the facility. And it's a gorgeous facility designed to be a safe place for children and adults who have come out of so much trauma, that they don't get re traumatized again, by having to travel between the office of Children's Services for law enforcement, all of this when they come in that very vulnerable state. Those are the wrap-around services so that they can deal with their grief and to start the healing from the moment they walk in the door. As they get those wrap-around forensic services and what not. I'm so proud to be a part of Providence for this because it's the only thing of its kind in Anchorage. And it serves a profound role and I think is really a centerpiece of our commitment in this space. 

Lindsie:

Yeah. And Nathan, I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind speaking a little bit to some of the collaboration response that has happened at the Sullivan Arena, specifically around the shelter and also the clinic that was all mobilized in response to the pandemic. Could you speak a little bit about that? 

Nathan:

Certainly. So no surprise to anyone, the COVID in the pandemic had a tremendous impact on the community, the economics, the job market. And we have seen, I can say this last December, January, February, which are very significant months, as you know, in Alaska, because it's exceptionally cold, and people die outside from exposure. We had new challenges in the community with being able to house the increasing numbers of homeless individuals. We saw during that December, January, February, that we had a demand for emergency homeless shelter that was between 40% and 50%, greater than any prior year during those months. And the cold months is when people come inside, so we get a real good indicator of what is happening on the streets, literally, and it was very disheartening. But the compounding problem is that we could not allow these individuals to sleep within six feet of one another. So we were in an instant crisis in all of our shelters to be able to accommodate these people to really give them life saving shelter during the middle of winter. But to accommodate that distance, the Sullivan arena a very large Sports Complex was opened up to the community. And, again, our Providence is funding throughout the system, the homeless response system Bean’s Cafe stepped up to lead that shelter, and it held up to 400 individuals. As I understand it was one of the if not the largest, emergency temporary shelter in the nation. And one of the first things that happened when Bean’s stood this up and got on the ground, again putting cuts across the floor is six-foot intervals. One of the really significant challenges is as we know, there are so many mental health and substance use issues in this population, just by nature of the suffering and the conditions that brought them to this point in their life. There were many problems. Historically, if somebody misbehaved beyond a certain point, or they couldn't keep them in shelter, they would trespass them that they would have to not permit them to stay there. But with COVID and the life-threatening conditions, they didn't feel morally okay with that. So, they reached out to me asking if Providence could stand up a clinic in the shelter to provide not only physical care, but to address mental health issues because in many cases, some of these individuals that were decompensating and having behavior problems-were off meds, and they had no way of dealing with it. And during COVID it was additional stresses and crises. So long story short, they called me, and we at Providence convened South Central Foundation, Tribal Health and the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center. We got on a path to setting up a collaborative clinic where medically assisted treatment was provided- virtual treatment. I mean, there was a tremendous demand for psychiatry, across the state and at all levels but we were able to provide remote psychiatric connection so that we could get these individuals back on their meds that were needed and even meds to help them deal with substance abuse, withdrawal, or substance misuse withdrawal. 

Nathan:

And I can't tell you when I walked in there just two months ago and saw the clinic there in all of its glory and individuals lined up outside; it was moving because again there's never been a more vulnerable year for all of us and for those who are homeless. Experiencing homelessness, it is exacerbated tremendously and for them to be able to have a safe place to go, that has saved them from the weather but safe from each other to have the distances and the protocols and then to have health care there in the center. It's a model that we are looking to carry on into the community for future homeless day centers and what not. And it gives us a chance to test out how we can do this collaboratively. But again, I think part of this story feeds into the story of how we establish community benefit programs in the community. Is that just like when we see a need when one emerges, either through the needs assessment or through a community outreach like this at the Sullivan Arena. We look at the need, but we don't jump to just filling that gap trying to build out something programmatically internally is that we really view it as another opportunity for collaboration. Because we bring a lot to the table but there's a lot we don't know, resources we acknowledge we don't have. And so as with this case we seek solutions and partnerships in the communities in the community first because many organizations have the skill sets and the relationships already developed. So sometimes for us, it is just a funding relationship that you know, where we underwrite a portion or a particular program or effort, as we have done in homelessness. But that provides us to seek, to convene the community around solutions and then to provide some resources. And even in the case of homelessness, to convene funders, which is what happened when we made our five-year $15 million dollar commitments. It was alongside Rasmuson Foundation, Premera, and Weidner apartment homes. And again, it's this convening of resources and the people with the knowledge and skills, I think that is the augurs well for the community. It really is at the heart of our mission. And I would just point out the latest example of this really is that we are just standing up a community-based Community Health Worker program. Where we have individuals, we have for community health workers who live in low income underserved communities, Mountain View, Fairview government Hill, Airport Heights, and they will be in the community reaching out to their neighbors to serve as a liaison and education point for many low income families, immigrant families. This is a recognition that health starts in the community and it's also a recognition that there are tremendous health inequalities, that many individuals who come here either you know, immigrants or that have language barriers have tremendous difficulty accessing the system and understanding it. So, we are piloting what is referred to as a promo tourist but it's a Community Health Worker program where these neighbors will help their neighbors navigate the system and introduce them to what options are available. And to different things around healthy lifestyle. So, this was a case where we saw a need in a general area, and we are using Providence resources to test this out. And we are actively partnering with many community organizations around this to make the connect points because we want to connect these people up with services in different parts of the community, which necessitates we do the same thing. So it is another great example of that's how a program starts and how we wade into the waters to figure out what it's going to look like in its state because our goal is to address the need not to create a program.  

Lindise:

Absolutely. Yeah, thank you for thank you for sharing. 

Nathan:

So, Lindsay, I know we've got a bit of time here. But I think we've walked through a lot of the notable stories and elements of community benefit. But I think maybe at this point, we could go up in altitude a bit and talk going forward. Maybe you could share what do we hope to achieve next year? Where are we going from here? Like we have been on this journey and next year is the next part of that. What would you like to share where we are headed?  

Lindsie:

Sure, I would love to we as for all the reasons and all of the discussions that we've had up to this point are really fortunate to be in a collaborative and communicative space with our community partners. So we are continuing on the path toward impacting the needs that have been identified in that community health needs assessments. We continue to be a support and a safety net for serving our mission, serving the poor and vulnerable. We are going to continue to do all providing health, health profession education, and continuing to subsidize our health services and all of these safety net key critical programs in our community. We also are really looking forward or toward those health improvement programs as health improvement projects to make a significant and lasting impact on our Community Health Needs Assessment. So we have talked a lot about homelessness this morning, I think that is and will continue to be a significant area of focus and impact for us, as we fulfill our commitment both financially as well as programmatically to that work. We mentioned community health worker or mobile clinic program, that's another sort of population health area focus for us where we are really focused on equitable access to care or access to care in general, and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion or justice, equity and inclusion and the intersection of Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (JEDI). In all of the work that we do and community benefit.  

Nathan:

Do you want to spell out the JEDI?  

Lindsie:

 Oh, yes. Sorry. Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion- yes. JEDAI. Thank you. And then finally, behavioral health is another significant focus we have mentioned that as being sometimes occurring with homelessness but also, we just know the pandemic has had a significant impact on all of us. And I don't think we can underestimate the importance of our behavioral health and caring for our mental health. So one of the collaborations that we are really looking forward to is our partnership with VOA Alaska to embed mental health professionals in our schools, particularly for young people. They have struggled just as much, if not more than we have as adults through this pandemic. And so, really excited about that. So, we have a lot to look forward to making a significant and lasting impact on our community health needs and partnering with our community to do that. 

Nathan:

Thank you, Lindsay. As I reflect on this and I think about those who are out there listening. I think what's notable to me especially within the Alaska and Anchorage community. It’s is not well understood or known the things we do outside the hospital walls, and that story has not gotten out as well as I think it should have because as a health system here in Alaska, and across our entire health system, we have a tremendous amount of talent and skills within healthcare delivery. And that is our most visible business, the work that we do but really our core is the mission. And healthcare is really the backstop and the core the foundation of that. But it's in truism that you need margin or funding before mission that is really our line of services that we bring to the community to address health needs. But it provides us the foundation really to do all of this mission and community benefit work that we really tighten, to tie up the pieces and get into the gaps where the health system cannot reach people. So, I'm really proud to be a part of this effort for Providence, and Lindsie I’ve been thrilled to have been on this journey with you these low these six years. And I look forward to continuing network especially post COVID to try to mitigate some of the impact because COVID is going to leave a very large wake in its path and we have got our work cut out for us to help mitigate that impact and all the people we serve. 

Lindsie:

Absolutely. Thank you, Nathan, for being here today and joining me on this live stream and to everyone for listening. Thank you so much for listening and sending in your questions. If you are looking to learn more about the community benefit report and community benefit programs in Alaska, you can visit providence.org/annual report. And please make sure to follow Providence on social media. We are on Twitter and under the Providence health system on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Thank you all so much. Thank you 

About the Author

The Providence Community Engagement team is focused on shining a spotlight on big societal topics. We are committed to bring you information and resources about issues and polices that impact all Americans.

More Content by Providence Community Engagement Team
Previous Article
Greg Gissendanner named Regional Associate Chief Philanthropy Officer for campaigns for Providence Southern California
Greg Gissendanner named Regional Associate Chief Philanthropy Officer for campaigns for Providence Southern California

Gissendanner will lead major gifts campaigns.

Next Article
A Tribute to Mission Hospital Organ Donors
A Tribute to Mission Hospital Organ Donors

Providence honors the donors who have given the gift of life, health and hope to those in need.