Hospital fund will help community

February 22, 2000

Hospital fundBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Washington County Health System, Inc. Tuesday announced the creation of a fund to support community organizations that promote the health or general well-being of residents.

The parent company of Washington County Hospital will distribute $80,000 in grants this year to applicants working to prevent health problems and to promote improved health for disadvantaged people.

In the future, the health system will dedicate up to 10 percent of its annual revenues (after expenses) toward the project, dubbed the Community Benefits Fund.


President and Chief Executive Officer H. W. Murphy said health should be redefined to include aspects such as good jobs, access to public transportation and a clean environment.

The health system believes improving each component contributes to the community's overall wellness, Murphy said.

"We want to teach people how to exist, how to have quality of life to enhance themselves and the community," he said.

The fund is intended to encourage innovative thinking about ways to improve the community. "A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man envisions it to be a cathedral," he said.

Three types of organizations can apply, including single-service providers, groups of providers and partnerships between the organization and people it serves, according to the health system.

Each must provide, develop or deliver health care or human services, including: affordable housing, recreational parks, public safety, literacy and education, disease prevention, mass transportation and environmental safety.

Murphy emphasized the fund is for self-help, not handouts. Grants will be given to underwrite operating costs and each recipient's program is expected to be self-sufficient by the third year of funding.

Giving money to local health organizations is not a new thing for the hospital, said Richard Phoebus, chairman of the health system's board. The community health clinic and other groups receive funding every year.

But the health system's mission is to improve the community's physical and mental health, Phoebus said.

Washington County Health Officer Robert Parker commended the effort. "Public health is becoming more and more not the responsibility of government agencies," he said. "Really the responsibility is ours to work together."

Hospital Chief Financial Officer Raymond Grahe said the amount in the fund will be up to the board to determine each year, but it will be limited to 10 percent of the health system's excess income.

Vice President for Patient Care Services Deborah Addo said a group of residents and health system members will rank applications, giving preference to those that fit with the health system's strategic plan.

The group will make recommendations to the board in May and the grants will be dispersed in June, she said.

For application information contact Addo at 301-790-8104.

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