Care for the Uninsured and Underinsured

Giving back to the community includes providing free or discounted care to people who can’t afford to pay. In 2013, Sutter Health’s commitment to charity care increased, reaching an all-time high of $166 million, compared with $153 million in 2012. This investment represents an average of more than $3 million per week. We also provided care to Medi-Cal patients at a cost of $522 million more than the state paid back to us for the care. This unreimbursed cost increased $72 million from the previous year.

Financial counselors guide patients in need

At the heart of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit mission stands our pledge to improve the health and well-being of people in our communities, including those who can’t afford to pay. Our hospital financial counselors advocate for patients with low incomes or no insurance, helping them apply for government assistance and determining their eligibility for our own charity care program. In 2013, a self-employed Auburn music teacher with a brain aneurysm experienced the benefits of our program firsthand. Although ineligible for county or state assistance, she qualified for Sutter Health charity care and received $250,000 in free medical and surgical services that saved her life.

“Sutter just stepped up for us.”

Eric Peach
husband of patient Paula Peach, helped through charity care

Mobile service widens access to care

Our mobile health services unit at Sutter Lakeside Hospital takes medical care directly to patients, traveling across rural Lake County to help those with little access to care. The doctor’s-office-on-wheels provides health screenings, wellness exams, sports physicals, vaccinations and referrals. The mobile service also teaches patients about chronic disease so they can better understand their illnesses and lead healthier lives. Referrals from the mobile health unit can link patients to a variety of resources, including primary and specialty care, Medi-Cal, food programs, mental health counseling and other services. In 2013, the van served 1,362 people in Lake County, including 223 new patients.

Community outreach extends worldwide

Sutter Health’s long-standing commitment to helping communities struck by disaster continued in 2013. We donated $450,000, which helped send mobile medical teams and supplies to assist communities battling wildfires in California, tornadoes in Oklahoma and a typhoon in the Philippines. In addition, volunteer Sutter Health medical teams, led by Drs. Stephen Lockhart, Toni Brayer and John Donovan, made their eighth trip to St. Marx in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake killed more than 100,000. The Sutter team has developed a special relationship with St. Nicholas Hospital medical staff, working with them to improve surgical conditions and patient safety. Sutter Health-affiliated hospitals also have played a significant role by donating medical supplies and equipment.

“This takes me back to the roots of why I became a doctor.”

John Donovan, M.D.
Sutter Health volunteer in Haiti

Caregivers donate skills to help patients

Doctors and nurses at Sutter-affiliated California Pacific Medical Center and several other Sutter facilities continued their decadelong partnership with Operation Access, a San Francisco Bay Area network of hospitals and health care professionals. The network provides free surgical and specialty medical services to people with limited financial resources. With 1,400 medical volunteers, 35 medical centers and 90 community clinics, the network has provided $100 million in donated care to 11,000 patients in six counties since 1993. In October 2013, for example, Sutter Health network physician volunteer Heidi Wittenberg performed robotic-assisted fibroid surgery on a Fremont patient who had endured years of discomfort but had no insurance and nowhere to turn for help. The minimally invasive surgery renewed the woman’s zest for life and helped her resume activities she loves.