By Frank Nask
Letter to the Editor of The Westside Gazette
Broward Health provides 80% of the care to the uninsured and under-insured in the northern two-thirds of Broward County, more than all other hospitals combined. The funding for that care comes from two sources, tax revenues ($150 million) and operating revenues ($950 million). The operating revenue is comprised of revenue from insured patients, federal and state grants, investment returns and other sources.
I want to assure our community that Broward Health has every intention to continue pursuing our public mission of welcoming and serving patients who don’t have access to medical insurance. We must also, however, continue to attract patients who do have insurance. This is critical because it allows us to fulfill our mission while limiting the burden on Broward County’s taxpayers.
Without those non-tax revenues, we would be forced to seek higher taxes to fund care for the uninsured. Yet, quite the contrary, during the last five years Broward Health has proudly lowered dependence on tax revenues from $196 million to the current amount. There is no support to any notion that I, any member of the administrative staff or members of the Board of Commissioners have any plan to reduce access or levels of care to the uninsured or underinsured. In fact, we continue to increase it. Since 2006, our emergency room visits have in-creased from 225,800 to 273,900, This represents a 21% increase. Of the 273,900 emergency room visits we cared for in 2011, 109,560 (which is 40% of the patients) were uninsured.
This is our mission. A mission Bro-ward Health has stood by and supported during these challenging economic times. A mission that included constantly enhancing services like recently breaking ground on a new grant funded Healthcare for the Homeless facility (more than twice the size of our current one); the Lillian S. Wells Center for Women; emergency services and state-of-the-art technology.
In late March, the Board of the North Broward Hospital District voted to approve a proposal put forth by the hospital system’s staff to better align all the System’s hospitals under the name of Broward Health, thus culminating a process that began in 2007 when the Broward Health brand was first created. I would like to take this opportunity to elaborate on the reasons why this proposal was made and why it is important to our System and community.
As part of this mission, we must constantly research, diligently evaluate and collaboratively support our System’s growth. Our research, year after year, has shown that a significant number of people with medical insurance associate some of our existing brands in the system with care for uninsured patients only – a perception that may keep them from seeking care in our facilities.
We take tremendous pride in delivering top quality health care services in all of Broward Health’s facilities and we want to make sure that when any patient goes to a medical facility that bears the Broward Health brand, they know they have an assurance of receiving the same level of high quality care.
By bringing all of our facilities under the same name, we are helping build a common identity across our community so that the public can have a consistent perception across all our facilities. Additionally, the unified name reinforces the sharing of knowledge, medical records, expertise and technology that results in better outcomes for the patients we serve in our community and we can achieve operating efficiencies by marketing all our hospitals and facilities under one brand umbrella.
If adopting a common brand across all our hospitals that promotes the positive common attributes of the System will help us address all of that, I fully endorse that course of action.
No doubt, our legacy lives in the Broward County community that we have served for nearly 75 years. As we evolve, our future success will be strengthened by connecting our physicians, caregivers and the communities we serve under one unified system. We want all of our patients to know that no matter where they are treated in the Broward Health system, they are connected to a team of nearly 2,000 of America’s best physicians and more than 8,000 committed healthcare professionals – all practicing collaboratively toward the same unified mission and vision.
Some call it change. We call it growth. Let’s just agree to call it Bro-ward Health.