Providence Swedish eases financial stress on families at St. Peter Hospital Special Care Nursery through Community Benefit funding

SOUTH PUGET SOUND – Giving back to the community, not just through healthcare, but also through Community Benefit funding, is one of many ways Providence Swedish carries on the legacy of the Sisters of Providence. Consistent with our Mission, Providence Swedish is dedicated to identifying and supporting community health needs. At Providence Swedish, Community Benefit funding plays a crucial role in helping to improve the well-being of the communities we serve.

Community Benefit refers to a wide range of services, programs, and activities to address specific needs in our local communities. It is one way we fulfill our charitable purpose as a not-for-profit health system.

Every three years, Providence Swedish in South Puget Sound conducts a community health needs assessment to identify what help is needed in our local communities. From that, Providence develops a community health improvement plan that identifies the ways in which the hospitals will invest in those needs. The allocation of funding is critical to ensuring resources are used effectively to benefit the community.

One area of service that often receives significant attention and investment is the Special Care Nursery located in the Family Birth Center at Providence St. Peter Hospital. This program aligns with the Community Health Needs Assessment in terms of both patients’ access to care and health equity.

Supporting the most vulnerable

The Special Care Nursery at St. Peter Hospital is a 13-bed, Level 2 neonatal care nursery designed to provide a higher level of care compared to a regular newborn nursery. The Special Care Nursery cares for babies born prematurely at a gestational age of 32 weeks or more, or babies with respiratory distress, jaundice, neonatal abstinence syndrome, neonatal opiate withdrawal syndrome or other more complex conditions. The next nearest Level 2 nurseries are in Tacoma to the north and Vancouver to the south, so St. Peter dedicated caregivers serve babies requiring a higher level of care from several counties in the region.

The Special Care Nursery has a dedicated team of healthcare professionals that ensure babies receive around-the-clock attention and treatment tailored to their specific needs. According to Debra Spencer, manager of the Special Care Nursery, the team consists of dedicated caregivers, hospitalists from Seattle Children's Hospital, a pediatrician that is in-house 24/7 attending to all deliveries, and a respiratory therapy team that attends to all high-risk deliveries and assists babies in the nursery that require any sort of respiratory support.

“The commitment and compassion of each and every caregiver on the team is amazing,” said Deb. “The patient experience they create for the babies and their families is exactly why I wanted to work here after both my babies were cared for in the Special Care Nursery here at St. Peter Hospital.”

Easing financial stress on families

The costs associated with caring for a baby in the Special Care Nursery can be substantial, including specialized medical equipment, around-the-clock monitoring, and the highly-skilled healthcare professionals. Many families face financial challenges that make it difficult to afford care. However, Providence Swedish believes that access to healthcare is a human right so, to ease the stress on these families, Providence Swedish allocates a portion of its Community Benefit budget specifically for charity care; by absorbing any costs that can’t be paid by the patients.

According to details provided by the Community Health Investment team, the Community Benefit dollar amount varies from year to year, depending on the number of patients served in the Special Care Nursery, their ability to pay, and insurance reimbursement rates. In 2022, St. Peter’s Community Benefit investment for the Special Care Nursery was $791,710 – more than 40% of Special Care Nursery patients received charity care and/or were enrolled in Medicaid. By helping to lift the financial burden, Providence Swedish creates an environment for families to remain focused on their child’s care and recovery.

To learn more about what Providence is doing in our communities, see here.

About St. Peter Hospital

Providence St. Peter Hospital is a 372-bed, not-for-profit regional teaching hospital founded by the Sisters of Providence in 1887. It is the largest hospital in the South Puget Sound and is a three-time Magnet® recognized hospital. The Magnet Recognition Program® recognizes the top health care organizations in the nation for providing nursing excellence. Only two other hospitals in Washington have garnered this honor. As part of the Providence Swedish family, St. Peter is more than a hospital; it’s part of a powerful network of skilled physicians, award-winning care centers, advanced clinical research, and breakthrough treatments. It’s world-class care, from people who care for you. At Providence Swedish, there is a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.

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