Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center and Providence Medford Medical Center are ranked eighth and 10th, respectively, among Oregon hospitals when it comes to reinvesting in local communities, according to the 2016 Oregon Health Authority’s Community Benefit Report.

Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass ranked 15th.

Asante’s three hospitals, including Ashland Community Hospital, provided a combined $115.4 million in community benefits in fiscal 2015. Providence’s Medford hospital dispersed $61.3 million.

“Community benefits” are defined as dollars invested in improving the health of a community through grants and subsidies, ensuring access to medical care through financial assistance for those who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise unable to pay, sponsoring health education programs, and underwriting medical research and clinical training. Providing medical treatment above and beyond what is covered by Medicaid and Medicare is also considered a community benefit.

As impressive as the totals were for fiscal 2015, officials for both hospitals report that community benefit spending “exceeded expectations” in 2016.

Asante invested $127.4 million to meet community health needs, surpassing the health care systems’ goal of $120 million.

As a not-for-profit operation, Asante’s mission is to “reinvest in Southern Oregon and Northern California,” says Scott Kelly, executive vice president of Asante and chief executive officer for Rogue Regional Medical Center. “It’s about community stewardship.”

In recent weeks, Cindy Mayo, chief executive officer of Providence Medford Medical Center, has awarded $150,000 to Rogue Valley area organizations and agencies.

The checks represent grants applied for in 2016 to fund specific programs in 2017.

On Wednesday, Mayo presented a $50,000 check to Kids Unlimited of Oregon as part of the hospital’s “Healthier Kids, Together” initiative, which promotes child wellness and the prevention of childhood and adolescent obesity.

Kids Unlimited of Oregon provides education through after-school programs, a charter school, sports programs and summer camps.

In January, Providence presented a $50,000 check to Rogue Retreat to help support the creation of Hope Village, a tiny-house village with a community gathering area and group kitchen.

Other grantees include:

Rogue Community Health mobile dental services in Upper Rogue, $20,500
United Way of Jackson County training in Big Idea schools, $11,500
Rogue Valley Family YMCA Junior Wellness Program, $10,000
St. Vincent de Paul, Rogue Valley Council mobile dental program with Medical Teams International, $10,000

According to the OHA report released Wednesday, Oregon hospitals provided $1.9 billion in community benefits in fiscal 2015. Larger urban hospitals’ investment of $1.7 billion accounted for the lion’s share, and more than 70 percent ($1.3 billion) of the total was provided through unreimbursed costs of Medicaid and Medicare.

Since 2007, OHA has been tasked with gathering and publishing data on how Oregon hospitals are providing their community benefit.

Both Asante and Providence conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The results of those surveys provide a roadmap on where to channel annual community investments.

The most frequently prioritized needs included access to affordable primary and preventative health care, improved mental and behavioral health programs and facilities, and substance-abuse recovery. Other concerns included childhood hunger, poverty and obesity.

To address those issues, Asante provided $2.5 million in improvements for mental and behavioral health services throughout Jackson and Josephine counties in 2015.

Kelly says that in the last two years, Asante has “spent millions” to remodel and expand the psychiatric crisis unit at Rogue Regional Medical Center. As part of that project, an $800,000 pediatric ward was created.

Asante is collaborating with Rogue Community College and will spend $250,000 over the next three years training the next generation of health care professionals.

Other beneficiaries include Addictions Recovery Center, Inc., which received $50,000 for a detox and sobering center; Mercy Flights, $25,000 for the purchase of a helicopter for emergency medical transportation; and the Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team, $45,000 to train medical personnel and first responders.

In addition, Asante supports Compass House, which provides outpatient care for people with mental illness.

Asante is also a partner with KOBI NBC-5 in the Southern Oregon Meth Project, a public awareness and education campaign.

In 2015, Providence committed funding to a variety of local nonprofits, including underwriting a dental program at La Clinica; funding the startup of the Clubhouse, an education and employment connections program at Compass House; and partnering with Hunger-Free Oregon to supply free breakfast, after-school and summer meals for hungry children.

In the past, Providence also has given support to Project Access NOW, a patient support program; St. Vincent de Paul for mobile dental vans and urban “rest stops” where transients can shower and do laundry; and Rogue Community Health for outreach programs for Latino workers and clients in need of home visits.

Both Asante and Providence offer free and discounted health care services. Kelly says Asante “writes off roughly $6 million” annually. In 2015, Providence offered $4.1 million in what OHA defines as “charity care.”

In a written statement from Providence Health & Services, officials say the 160-year-old institution “will continue to focus on providing compassionate care for the poor and vulnerable in our communities. By investing in our local communities, we reach out beyond our hospital and clinics in support of organizations whose missions also call them to provide services to vulnerable people.”

— Reach Grants Pass freelance writer Tammy Asnicar at