Foundations of Health

The founding Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph were called to serve their communities by providing health care and education services to all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. Their work laid the foundation for Providence’s vision of health for a better world and our commitment to serving all and ensuring the most basic health needs are met.

According to Feeding America, food insecurity has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began, affecting more than 50 million people, including 17 million children. Nutrition plays a foundational role in community health.

  • *The Children’s Lunchbox: The Children’s Lunchbox in Anchorage, Alaska has played a vital role in feeding hungry children since 1998. In 2020, the program continued to meet growing needs and ensure no child went hungry. Learn more about how Providence helped expand efforts during the pandemic.
  • Emergency Food and Shelter Initiative: In 2020, the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund donated $1 million to local food banks across the seven states Providence serves.
  • *Food Scarcity in Southern California: Providence St. Mary Medical Center provided a grant to High Desert Second Chance, the region’s first food bank, at a time when volunteerism dwindled and food demand skyrocketed. Read more about how the team responded to needs in the community. 
  • Food Waste: Reducing food insecurity includes work to minimize food waste. In 2020, we prepared our communities to support the California Edible Food Recovery regulation requiring 20% of discarded edible food to be recovered.
  • *Health Education and Wellness Center: We partnered with local nonprofits in Lubbock, Texas to provide free health education and increase access to food in the community. Find out how this program impacted children and families in the community. 
  • In Chicamán, Guatemala: Providence sponsored a donation of 3,000 pounds of fortified flour and 5,000 pounds of corn to families facing food insecurity. Providence also funded an animal husbandry and community garden program benefitting community leaders in villages with high malnutrition and extreme poverty. These nutrition programs were critically important to community members unable to work or travel.

*Examples of our investments in community benefit programs, partnerships and initiatives.

Finding sustainable pathways to permanent housing a serious commitment from private and public sector entities.

  • *Project Roomkey: A collaboration between Los Angeles County, Providence and California Community Foundation provided $2 million dollars in financial support to set up surge tents at three Los Angeles County Medical Centers and health services grants to FQHC’s and mental health providers at Project Roomkey sites. Providence also partnered with the County to ramp up testing in Wilmington, Calif., an underserved Los Angeles community with a very high COVID case rate. Learn more.
  • *Shelter to Success: The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected those experiencing homelessness. Learn how Providence supported local efforts in Alaska to keep this high-risk population safe from infection.
  • *Mobile Health Clinics: In Northern California, the St. Joseph Mobile Health Clinic team adapted to test and screen people experiencing homelessness for COVID-19. Providence worked with the local health department to reach people and provide care out in the community. Find more on this story here.
  • *Supportive Housing and Mental Health Care: In 2020, St. Joseph Hospital’s Emergency Care Center in Orange County improved how they helped people with severe mental health challenges and unstable housing. Discover how the ECC and local partners like Jamboree continued to care for a high-risk populations during the pandemic.
  • *Partnerships Drive Housing Solutions: In Olympia, Wash., Providence Health & Services partners with and invests in the city’s ongoing efforts to provide resources to people experiencing homelessness. Hear how Providence supported the micro-housing program.

*Examples of our investments in community benefit programs, partnerships and initiatives.

Disparities in education are closely linked with health challenges, especially for those in marginalized communities. In 2020, Providence prioritized investments in community health education for our most vulnerable populations.

  • *Culturally and Linguistically-Appropriate Education: The bilingual and bicultural Paso a Paso team provides culturally and linguistically appropriate prenatal care to the Latinx community in California. In 2020, this program adapted its services to continue empowering new parents during COVID-19.
  • Providence Education: During the pandemic, Providence High School and the University of Providence quickly shifted to online learning and continued to provide quality education while protecting the health of their staff, faculty, students and communities. The virtual transition created safe opportunities for continual learning.
  • *Community Health Workers: In Walla Walla, Wash. the community health workers build trust by accompanying patients to appointments, advocating for their needs, and connecting them to services like rent assistance, food delivery and health insurance. These services are vital to support strong community partnerships. Learn how the CHWs are gaining access to training and education services to continue this important work.
  • In Malawi, Africa: In 2020, Providence sponsored a full-time U.S. faculty person at the Mangochi District Hospital in Malawi to develop a Family Medicine practice and provide ongoing mentorship to medical staff. Through hands-on clinical training and support, local clinicians become better equipped to improve health outcomes for generations to come.
  • *Mental Health First Aid: This national program trains people to identify and address mental illness and distress in youth and adults. In Washington, Kadlec’s Community Health Department partnered with Educational Service District 123 to provide this crucial training to community members. Find out how this program adapted its approach in 2020.

*Examples of our investments in community benefit programs, partnerships and initiatives.

Providence is an enduring advocate for health and social programs that improve the well-being of our communities. Eliminating systemic injustices, reducing health disparities, and ensuring our planet is healthy are critical to our communities’ health and future generations’ development.

  • Reducing Health Disparities: In 2020, Providence announced it will invest $50 million over the next five years to improve health equity in our communities, beginning with mitigating the inequitable impacts of the pandemic. Reducing health disparities is a 2021-2022 advocacy priority.
  • *Protecting People in Crisis: Intimate partner violence occurs among all genders, income levels and races. Nationally 10% of men and 25% of women have experienced intimate partner violence. The Harbor, a nonprofit that supports domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, reported nearly 50% more demand for services. Learn more about how Providence partnered with The Harbor.
  • *Youth LGBTQ+ Camp: Swedish Health Services supports Camp Ten Trees, a residential summer camp for LGBTQ+ youth and youth from LGBTQ+ families in the Seattle area. This is the only program of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about how Camp Ten Trees moved virtual in 2020.
  • Healthy Planet: Providence is committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030. Pollution and climate change harm health and disproportionately affect those in under-resourced communities. Last year, we reduced our carbon footprint by:
    1. Developing a greenhouse gas inventory under the WRI Greenhouse Gas Protocol, commonly known as a “carbon footprint.”
    2. Establishing a metric to reduce our carbon footprint by 3-5% per year.
    3. Launching the WE ACT framework representing Waste, Energy/water, Agriculture/food, Chemicals, and Transportation. Together the WE ACT elements account for an estimated 90% of our greenhouse gas emissions. By identifying priorities for improvement in each area, we can efficiently reach our carbon-negative goal. Learn more about the WE ACT framework.
    4. Establishing and launching the Environmental Justice Collaborative. This collaborative is committed to justice internally among caregivers and staff and in our communities. Negative and unstable environmental conditions disproportionately affect those who are poor and most vulnerable. We know that some racial and ethnic groups face higher exposure to pollutants and harmful chemicals, and often suffer the greatest health implications and environmental injustices.
    Across the Providence system, 17 hospitals received 23 awards from Practice Greenhealth to recognize their ongoing work and commitment to environmental stewardship.

*Examples of our investments in community benefit programs, partnerships and initiatives.

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