Adena Health System Among Top Four National Finalists for Excellence in Community Service

Proud of its roots in service to the community and continuing to embrace a call to serve that has been the hallmark of its 127-year history, Adena Health System has been honored as a national finalist for the 2022 Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service.

As one of just four national finalists, Adena was recognized for its community-based efforts to improve the health and well-being of people in south central and southern Ohio. The Health System will be awarded a $10,000 prize to be used toward its programs that further these efforts during the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Annual Membership Meeting, being held April 26th in Washington, D.C.

The Foster G. McGaw Prize is open to the more than 5,139 community hospitals represented by the AHA. Sponsors for the Prize include the Baxter International Foundation, AHA and its non-profit affiliate, Health Research & Educational Trust. Each year, the Foster G. McGaw Prize is awarded to a health care organization that has shown exemplary commitment to establishing and facilitating programs that improve the overall health and well-being of its community.

Adena was the only rural-based health care organization represented among the national final four vying for this year’s top prize. The winner was Texas Health Resources based in Arlington, Texas. Joining Adena as finalists were MUSC Health in Charleston, South Carolina, and UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“Being named a 2022 Foster G. McGaw finalist for excellence in community health is a great testament to more than a decade of thoughtful work and dedication by Adena’s community health-focused teams for services that are delivered within and outside our facilities,” said Jeff Graham, Adena President and CEO. “Adena is responsible for the health of nearly 400,000 people in a nine-county service region, and we recognize that many in our communities have barriers that keep them from accessing the care they need. Together, with committed community partners, we are proud to play an active role in getting people the care and services they need.

“We greatly appreciate all of our community partners and know that making lasting impacts towards better health and well-being in our region can’t be done alone. Adena’s recognition as a Foster G. McGaw finalist belongs to each of them as well. It was a privilege to share, on a national stage, the meaningful, life-changing impact that our collaborations are making for people in our region.”

Since 1895, Adena’s focus has been on the care of patients who come through its doors for their health care needs. Focus beyond Adena’s traditional care model began to take shape as the societal needs facing its communities became more prevalent. By conducting community health assessments with its public health, government, social services and education partners, Adena has learned directly from its communities about the health issues and barriers they face in accessing care and set the course for today’s community-based efforts.

Results of the first Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in 2013 made it clear that Adena’s mission as the region’s primary health care organization went beyond its hospitals or clinics. Armed with the concerns and needs of the region, Adena’s Department of Community Health and Development was created to develop partnerships with like-minded entities, embracing similar goals to improve people’s health and quality of life.

In 2020, Adena put its commitment to community front and center in the organization’s mission statement, “Called to serve our communities.” Always focused on providing close-to-home access to health care in the nine-county region it serves, Adena’s community focus is clear and direct in this new mission statement. It also envelops the focus on Adena’s role in filling gaps found within its communities.

“The experiences we have had collectively as a Community Health team over the last 10 years have shown us that building the resources and abilities of those we serve results in healthier communities,” explained Kim Jones, Adena’s Director of Community Health and Development. “Collectively, we are doing a better job at identifying and filling in the gaps of resources needed in our communities. But we are also redefining what community partnerships really mean by focusing on the infrastructure our communities need to support health and address disparate social factors. This includes environmental issues that impact the quality of life and economic opportunities for our population.”

Among its partnered programs, Adena was recognized for the innovative community service initiatives being used to address the following issues:

  • Drug addiction, which is a leading community health need in every CHNA. Since the creation of a collaborative, now known as the Hope Partnership Project, treatment options in the region have grown from barely a handful in 2015 to more than 20 in just Ross and Pike Counties. Many lives have also been saved by providing free Narcan to addicts, families and employers to reverse an overdose.
  • Advocating for victims of violence, which gives people presenting to the ER or urgent care with injuries from interpersonal violence the opportunity to empower themselves. Specially-trained Adena social workers offer assistance and post-traumatic services that can include referrals for housing, job and/or education and training to get people on their feet. In 2020, Adena’s Survivor Advocates served 445 people, including 12 identified as victims of human trafficking.
  • Healthy communities, which is the role of Partners for a Healthier Ross County. Founded and led by Adena Health System and the Ross County Health District, Partners for a Healthier Ross County uses the CHNA as its roadmap to identify need and in the development of health solutions.
  • Partnering for healthy kids, which is also an important aspect of Adena’s community outreach. Of the Ross County families living in poverty, 75.3% include a child, and many have transportation barriers. Since 2011, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Adena have partnered to care for young patients, giving them specialty care closer to home. Adena is now working with five local school districts to create health and wellness services inside school districts.
  • Fostering economic development, which isn’t typically thought of as a health care function. However, as Ross County’s largest employer, Adena is responsible for more than a half-billion dollars going into the local economy through wages, taxes, purchased services and more. The health system formally came to the economic development table in 2011, for discussions about the future of the Carlisle Building, an historic downtown facility. Adena found a unique use for the fire-ravaged building as a housing solution its growing medical education program. The approximately $5 million revitalization project was instrumental in the rebirth of Chillicothe’s downtown economy. 

    An AHA-selected committee of current and former health care administrators from across the U.S. noted in its prize review process that they were “particularly impressed with how Adena has addressed substance use disorder through its outreach program, highlighting that your efforts in this area surpass those of larger urban health care organizations addressing similar challenges. The committee also commends your comprehensive approach to the well-being of your community, in particular how your organization has integrated its economic development with your community, revitalizing your local downtown area...Adena Health System has clearly made a significant impact on the lives of the people it serves.”

“The work Adena is doing in the communities we serve is truly a labor of love for our family, friends, neighbors, and the region,” Graham concluded. “This mission is not about any recognition or financial award. It is about people caring for their own. If someone can’t get to us for care, we’ll find a way to get care to them.”