An exchange of views: The Floyd Memorial sale, Baptist Health Systems and indigent care costs.


A reader recently commented:

The Floyd Memorial Hospital wrote off 35 million dollars last year for indigent medical care because the local patients simply couldn’t pay for the services they needed.

For many years, the city of New Albany has carefully stockpiled citizens who rely on government assistance to live. Most of those can’t afford hospital care. The final deal with Baptist Health Systems gives the city only 5 million a year for five years toward “indigent care”. Who will administer the 5 million annually and how will the folks who will have the obvious 30 million (at least) in additional, unpaid indigent hospital care costs next year get their care? Will bodies be stacked like cordwood along Bono Road?

This city has a rich history of relying on the federal teat for everything. It will end, and it won’t happen according to a City Hall schedule.

Daniel J. Eichenberger, President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services, was given a chance to reply.

I am unclear as to where this information related to defined number for charity care originated. I do not know of any such defined number. One of the reasons Baptist was chosen was because they were a not-for-profit entity and the task force felt this would likely benefit the community more substantially when it came to charity care. As part of our FAQ’s we provided to our employees, the following question and answer deals with this issue. I hope this is helpful.

How would you describe Baptist Health’s commitment to the communities served, including the level of charity care provided?

A. The first Baptist Health hospital was opened in 1924 to fulfill its Christ-centered mission of caring for the ill and infirmed. Although the mission has been expressed in numerous ways over the past 90 years, at the heart of each mission statement is the desire to demonstrate the love of Christ through the healing ministry in each of our hospitals’ respective communities. Despite the changing paradigm of healthcare delivery, Baptist Health remains committed to not only make the sick well, but equally as important, to enhance the health of those we serve by providing care to patients regardless of race, sex, national origin, disability, age or their ability to pay. We believe that it is our responsibility to provide medically necessary care to all who are in need, without regard to ability to pay, yet within the reasonable bounds of responsible stewardship. Last year, the cost of charity care provided by Baptist Health for its communities was more than $62 million.

Further, we believe it is our responsibility to contribute to the improvement of the general health and wellness of our community and environment through effective community education and involvement in community health improvement activities and promotions. These activities include such things as: health fairs and screenings, speaking engagements, educational programs and classes for community groups and individuals, support groups, donating space to community groups, sponsoring community fitness events/fun runs, partnering with local schools to sponsor Project Fit, healthcare education and other promotions for children, especially those who might be in poor health and at high risk. Last year, the cost of these programs was more than $3.3 million. In addition, Baptist Health made nearly $1.8 million in cash donations to community organizations.

Finally, we believe it is our responsibility to contribute to the health of our community through a continuum of care, even when it means maintaining unprofitable services that meet important community needs. Last year, the cost of unprofitable services provided by Baptist Health to our communities was nearly $12 million.