University Hospital ranked in Top 10 nationally for community health investment

Is highest-ranked facility in N.J. in first-ever ranking based on community health spending

University Hospital in Newark has been ranked as the 10th-best hospital in the country for community health investment, according to the first-ever Lown Hospitals Index, a study by the Lown Institute that is being released Monday.

University is the only New Jersey hospital ranked in the Top 10. A total of 3,641 hospitals were ranked on the national list.

The recognition is acknowledgment of the fact that University Hospital, among other nonprofit hospitals, applies a greater portion of its revenue and resources toward investing in care for those who need it most. Hospitals were ranked specifically on charity care spending, spending on other community health investments and the proportion of patient revenue from Medicaid, which is considered a measure of the hospital’s commitment to taking care of low-income patients.

The Lown Institute, a national, nonpartisan health care organization, was founded in 1973 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Bernard Lown, developer of the defibrillator and cardioverter. The Lown Institute believes that a radically better system of health is possible and generates bold ideas toward that goal.

University Hospital CEO Shereef Elnahal said the recognition shows the hospital is remaining true to its vision and mission.

“Since I arrived here more than two years ago, I told the Newark community that they will be prioritized in all of our necessary change efforts: We are delivering,” he said. “The Newark Agreements call for this hospital to do more than simply serve as a provider of health care in our community — and that’s what we are doing.”

Elnahal said the results come from attention to the process, rattling off how the hospital achieves its goals.

“We’ve worked with our group purchasing organization to increase our diversity spend and found that we are among the top few hospitals in the nation on this front,” he said. “We have concrete plans to hire and purchase more of what we buy locally. We have a health equity task force that is setting hard goals, timelines and metrics on diversifying leadership, promoting from within, addressing implicit bias and many other areas.

“And we are invested in fixing the upstream, social determinants of our patients’ health issues, including a community health-focused housing partnership with the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

“There should be no doubt that, at University Hospital, community health is not just a part of what we do, but it is at the very core of our mission.”

Data for the rankings came from hospital cost reports filed with hospital tax filings and cost reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2018.

Since that filing, Elnahal said University Hospital’s community health efforts have only accelerated, as it has worked to amplify its population health strategies by identifying and addressing patients and populations with health-related social needs through screening, referral and community navigation services.

Tackling the complex social, behavioral and physical health needs of the community remains a strategic focus and drives the integration of health equity across all business operations, he said.

Most recently, University Hospital has actively worked to vaccinate residents in Newark and surrounding communities against COVID-19, addressing disparities between them. University Hospital went into Newark neighborhoods to bring the vaccine to residents.

The hospital also held a Health & Wellness Festival in May, providing COVID-19 vaccines to those who were eligible. Also, screenings for blood glucose, colon cancer, blood pressure and vision were part of the Health & Wellness Festival.

The hospital also provided clinical oversight at the FEMA megasite in Newark, and has been spearheading the state’s mobile vaccination efforts.

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, University Hospital handled 83,122 emergency department visits, 15,572 inpatient admissions and 199,804 outpatient clinic visits. In addition, the hospital continues to serve as the regional collaborator for northern New Jersey to assist the state in managing the pandemic, along with partner Level I trauma centers in Central and South Jersey, at the direction of the Department of Health.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 hospitals on the list:

  1. Paradise Valley Hospital (National City, California);
  2. Elmhurst Hospital Center (Elmhurst, New York);
  3. Queens Hospital Center (Jamaica, New York);
  4. Metropolitan Hospital Center (New York City);
  5. Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center (Brooklyn);
  6. Leonard D. Chabert Medical Center (Houma, Louisiana);
  7. NYC Health + Hospitals Coney Island (Brooklyn);
  8. Lallie Kemp Medical Center (Independence, Louisiana);
  9. Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (San Francisco);
  10. University Hospital (Newark).