Hospitals have always been there for their communities — every hour of every day, year after year. When you are sick or injured, the big blue H signifies help and hope — a place to go to get the care you need. Today’s hospitals have been redefining what it means to provide care. They are working not just to mend bodies, but also to help people and communities become healthier by investing in basic social and personal needs.

Hospitals are connecting with local organizations and creating innovative programs to build stronger communities, every day. These programs work to address basic needs such as food, shelter and education. By promoting healthier lifestyles, hospitals are working to create opportunities for people to improve their lives. But this is just the beginning. Here are some examples from communities across the country, illustrating some of these many changes.

INTEGRIS Health — Basic Educational Empowerment Program

At-risk students attend GED classes four days a week and complete a résumé, a five-year personal strategic plan and an online financial class. INTEGRIS Health also helps students pay for a college education by picking up the balance of tuition and books after students complete scholarship and financial aid forms.

Indiana University Health — Garden on the Go

Garden on the Go® is a year-round mobile produce van that serves neighborhoods in the greater Indianapolis area that do not have regular access to healthful foods. According to one customer, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to this community.”

Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems — Raising Readers

Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems is a partner in Raising Readers. Physicians and nurses give books to kids at birth and well-child visits and discuss with families the importance of reading. The result? Nearly all Maine children receive a personal library of 12 books before entering kindergarten.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Hospitals around the country are implementing innovative programs like these, and we want to hear about them. It is in this spirit that I’m happy to share a new campaign the American Hospital Association is launching ( aimed at helping patients and consumers better understand the evolving role of our nation’s hospitals and how hospitals are providing care beyond their four walls to improve the health of their communities. Using this website and other social media efforts, the AHA hopes to bring this message to communities across the country, highlighting the importance of collaboration and proactive patient care. offers resources to explain hospital transformation, address consolidation concerns and provide examples of new and innovative programs across the country. In addition, the website features a “Share Your Story” section where patients, caregivers and hospitals can talk about the ways their hospitals are reaching out to their communities to provide care where patients need it most.

The women and men of America’s hospitals work around the clock to provide care for patients in their time of need. The hospital of the future will continue that promise, but in new ways that focus not only on what happens within the four walls of a building but also on partnerships that advance the health of individuals and communities. I encourage you to visit our new website ( Watch the opening video and share your hospital’s story to help spread the word that hospitals are advancing health in communities across the country every day. 

Rich Umbdenstock is president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

News from the AHA

Nebraska CEO wins AHA Shirley Ann Munroe Award

Harold L. Krueger Jr., CEO of Chadron (Neb.) Community Hospital & Health Services, is the 2014 winner of the American Hospital Association’s Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award. The award recognizes the accomplishments of small or rural hospital leaders who have improved health care delivery in their communities through innovative and progressive efforts.

Hospital associations can apply by Jan. 23 for leadership award

Applications are open through Jan. 23 for the 2015 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership. It honors a state, regional or metropolitan hospital association that demonstrates exceptional organizational leadership and innovation in quality improvement through programs and activities. Contact Debbie Pierce at

RAC survey: Appeals add up; so does resource commitment

Hospitals continue to proactively appeal recovery audit contractor claim denials, according to a December report from the AHA’s quarterly RACTrac survey. Hospitals participating in the third quarter survey report appealed 48 percent of all RAC claim denials, with a 70 percent overturn rate in the appeals process. Hospitals continue to report committing significant funding and resources to manage the RAC process. Visit

AHA members receive resource on ACA employer mandate

The AHA in December released a members-only resource on the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and related Internal Revenue Service reporting obligations. The 90-minute recorded audio/slide presentation by AHA Assistant General Counsel Lawrence Hughes and Jones Day partners Curt Kirschner and Cathy Livingston reviews related compliance and reporting challenges, and issues that remain open or subject to continuing debate in the regulatory, legislative and judicial arenas.