The honest, accurate reporting of charity healthcare in any community is essential. People who generously donate to nonprofit or philanthropic organizations or foundations deserve to understand how many people are in need, how many are being served and how many are falling through the cracks.
For decades, NCH has worked closely with many nonprofit organizations who send patients directly to our facilities for care these organizations are unable to provide – and we continue to do so today. Any decisions regarding relationships with other nonprofits are made to ultimately ensure we can continue to provide services at no cost to those who need support.
Misrepresented or inflated data around charity care can compromise the ability of organizations like NCH and others to provide needed services to our communities. Inaccurate data on needs and services leads to misalignment of future funding from government agencies and philanthropic organizations. It is therefore critical that reporting is accurate and honest.
Suppose Healthcare Nonprofit A has a donor-supported fund for mammograms. Nonprofit A asks the patient where she wants to go for the mammogram. The woman may select a for-profit or not-for-profit facility. Nonprofit A sends the payment for the procedure directly to the facility that will provide this service. Only Healthcare Nonprofit A has the right to claim that patient in its report of charity care.
Now suppose that Healthcare Nonprofit B does not have funds to pay for a mammogram for a patient in need and calls NCH to provide the mammogram. NCH agrees to provide the service for free and NCH reports that mammogram in its total annual charity care. Healthcare Nonprofit B cannot report that charity care simply for making a phone call. In this case, that patient would have then had her charity care inaccurately reported twice, leading to a falsely inflated total amount of charity healthcare provided within the community.
Despite inaccurate claims at the Naples City Council and Collier County Commission meetings, as well as in the Naples Daily News, NCH has never refused to accept patients in need nor given direction—neither encouragement nor limitation—to its employees, including physicians, as to charity care they may wish to offer after hours to any other organization. Indeed, many NCH employees volunteer at a variety of healthcare nonprofits, including the Neighborhood Health Clinic, and NCH is proud of its colleagues who choose to donate their own time to others. In fact, the physician who serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Neighborhood Health Clinic is an NCH employee. Dr. Weiss was a volunteer from the inception of the Neighborhood Health Clinic until recently when the clinic stopped scheduling him.
In the past fiscal year, the NCH Healthcare System provided $170 million in charity healthcare to uninsured and underinsured people in Collier and southern Lee Counties. That amount, which is an audited number, includes in-patient care (hospitalizations at NCH) and out-patient care (labs, scans, and procedures as well as office visits with members of the NCH Physician Group). The number is the sum of direct charity care and write-offs.
NCH takes care of everyone seeking help—an important reason why the largest hospital in Naples is and must remain a not-for-profit system.
While federal elected officials debate ways to increase access to and quality of healthcare insurance, NCH remains committed to helping everyone live a longer, happier, and healthier life.
Below are NCH’s responses to claims you may have read about NCH’s commitment to charity care in the Naples Daily News:
Claim: Neighborhood Health Clinic patients are denied care at NCH.
Fact: Patients who are receiving part of their care at Neighborhood are still cared for at NCH with care directly coordinated with NCH by the physician.
Claim: Physicians and nurses are discouraged from volunteering at the Neighborhood Health Clinic.
Fact: This is false. NCH is proud to have many physicians and nurses who volunteer their time at many organizations including Neighborhood. In fact, the physician who serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Neighborhood Health Clinic is an NCH employee. Additionally, our nurses are incentivized to volunteer at the Neighborhood as part of a career ladder program.
Claim: The pressure for NCH physicians to stop volunteering at the clinic comes from Dr. Weiss with a clear intent.
Fact: Dr. Weiss has never pressured NCH physicians from volunteering their services at Neighborhood or anywhere else.
Claim: It is unconscionable that Dr. Weiss, president and chief executive officer of NCH, would attempt to close down the clinic.
Fact: NCH has no intention of attempting to close the clinic. For decades, NCH has worked closely with many nonprofit organizations who send patients directly to our facilities for care these organizations are unable to provide – and we continue to do so today.