Recent census data categorizes 33 million, or roughly 10 percent, of U.S. residents as uninsured. This same group is also often the most in need of medical services. That’s what makes “safety net” hospitals such critical resources for the communities they serve.
Hospitals – like St. Barnabas in Bronx, New York – receive the safety net designation because of this key component: an open-door policy for services and treatment for all patients – which means the underinsured, the uninsured, or those on Medicaid. As a result, St. Barnabas annually receives more than 88,000 emergency room visits, an average of more than 240 per day.
“St. Barnabas Hospital, in every sense of the word, is a community hospital,” says Todd Gorlewski, chief financial officer for SBH Health System, which runs St. Barnabas. “We’re taking care of the people that live here that really cannot afford much at all, let alone have access to health care.”
While safety-net hospitals rely on federal, state, and local governments to help cover the cost of the uncompensated services they provide, they often find themselves lacking additional financial resources for medical and facility updates.
As a result, St. Barnabas had put off replacing important medical equipment, including new operating room and hemodialysis equipment, for several years. It needed to find the right credit solution to make these now-critical purchases. That’s when it found Wells Fargo and a $13.3 million loan.
“When we were talking to Wells Fargo, it wasn’t a matter of ‘Here’s why we can’t do it,’ or ‘Here’s what we don’t know.’ It was, ‘Help us understand where your hurdles are so we can make this work,’” says Todd. “This funding from Wells Fargo allows St. Barnabas to continue providing high-quality health care to a diverse and economically challenged patient population.”