By Bruce Crowther
Our shaky economy has many of us tightening our belts, and with good reason. Still, in spite of the tough times, we've seen that while Americans may be cutting back on retail shopping, the spirit of giving is still very much alive.
Americans give an estimated $300 billion annually to charitable causes. Last year, donations to not-for-profit hospitals across the country totaled $7.6 billion, according to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. These charitable donations help hospitals invest in state-of-the-art facilities, advanced technologies and community outreach programs.
I see the impact of philanthropy at Northwest Community Hospital every day. In fact, it was largely the generous contributions from community members that built this hospital more than 50 years ago. Giving can be that important.
Not-for-profit hospitals serve as the safety net for their communities, providing facilities where patients can get necessary medical care regardless of their ability to pay. You can always depend on your local hospital, so deciding to support that hospital however you can is undoubtedly worthwhile.
Philanthropy leads to expanded hospital services, and it can also provide the margin of difference between a good hospital and a great hospital. For example, at NCH, donations play a significant role in projects such as our new South Pavilion and expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Contributions large and small also make possible programs funded entirely by charitable giving, such as Animal-Assisted Therapy and the Cancer Patient Assistance Fund, which provides short-term aid to help financially strapped cancer patients with basic living expenses.
We hope a future example of the impact of philanthropy at NCH will be a new Emergency Room Imaging Center that will provide faster care and rapid stroke response. Our community can make a difference by helping us make that happen as soon as possible.
Like many families and businesses, hospitals must do more with less as the country struggles to recover from recession. Philanthropy takes on a new role as it becomes even more important for not-for-profit hospitals to raise funds for projects upfront to ensure they get completed on schedule and in the way intended.
The quality of life for all of us would be far less if not for our benevolence toward everything from education to the arts to the environment—and, of course, to healthcare.
Bruce Crowther is president and CEO of Northwest Community Hospital, and has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare leadership.