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  • Jul 26, 2021

Lown Institute Ranks CHA First in Mass. for Community Investment

CHA tops healthcare think tank's 2021 Community Benefit ranking in Mass.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), a community health system serving Cambridge, Somerville and Boston's metro-north communities, has been ranked as the number one hospital in Massachusetts (with an A grade) in spending on charity care and community investment by the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan healthcare think tank.

The Lown Hospitals Index 2021 Community Benefit ranking examined 3,641 hospitals based on their Medicaid revenue, charity care spending and other investments that have direct benefit to the community -- like health clinics, housing and food security. The Lown Institute used data from hospital cost reports filed with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and IRS 990 forms, both from 2018. Public hospitals like CHA are well represented on the list, given their role as safety net institutions tasked with caring for all regardless of ability to pay. Per the index's methodology, CHA's commitment to charity care spending and serving low-income patients drove its top ranking.

"Improving the health of our communities is at the heart of our organizational mission," said Assaad Sayah, MD, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance. "This recognition validates how important our work is both inside and outside the walls of our hospitals and health centers."

CHA's community focus extends across a wide range of population health, public health and community health programs and initiatives. Examples include:

  • The Volunteer Health Advisor (VHA) program, which trains and supports volunteers to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate education for underserved and hard-to-reach populations. VHAs have played a critical role in CHA's mobile vaccination program, which has given approximately 2,000 vaccinations to hard-to-reach populations in communities heavily impacted by COVID-19.
  • CHA's food security screening programs, which have provided food assistance to local families facing food insecurity and patients who have quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes CHA's innovative Mobile Market in Revere, created in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank, Tufts Health Plan and other community partners, which distributed more than 100,000 pounds of fresh, nutritious food to families over the past year.
  • Project READ, CHA's childhood literacy program, which provides all children with brand new, age-appropriate books during pediatric visits and counsels their families about the importance of reading aloud.
  • CHA's Health Improvement Team, which works collaboratively with healthcare providers, residents, community based organizations and city leaders to assess community health status, identify problem areas, build action plans and provide leadership around health issues that impact the community.
  • CHA Recovery Coaches, who work as peer counselors in the Emergency Department to support patients struggling with the disease of addiction and help them access treatment at a time when they are most receptive.

CHA has performed well in other Lown Institute measures of hospital performance. In the most recent rankings of Inclusivity, which measure hospitals' success in caring for low income, low educational status and people of color in their catchment areas, CHA earned an A grade and ranked second in Massachusetts and among the top 100 hospitals in the nation. CHA also received an A grade nationally for Avoiding Overuse, a measure of a hospital's delivery of commonly overused and unnecessary procedures. Full composite rankings will be released later this year.

Founded in 1973 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Bernard Lown, MD, developer of the defibrillator and cardioverter, the Lown Institute believes that a radically better system of health is possible and generates bold ideas towards that goal. The Lown Hospitals Index, a signature project of the Institute, is the first ranking to assess the social responsibility of U.S. hospitals by applying measures never used before like racial inclusivity, avoidance of overuse, and pay equity.

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