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Community Benefit

For nearly 90 years, the West Alabama community has looked to the DCH Health System to provide the latest health services. The Health System strives to meet those expectations by continually improving existing services and replacing aging equipment at its hospitals: DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center.

We also have a highly skilled, dedicated staff, volunteers and physicians to provide the care that's expected. As a health care system owned and operated by the citizens of Tuscaloosa County, the DCH Health System has made it its mission to care for all people of West Alabama, regardless of their ability to pay. This is true at all of the DCH hospitals. DCH is committed to being a good steward of all of its resources for the good health of our patients and the community. Based on guidelines developed by VHA, the Catholic Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association, DCH Health System identified more than $46.7 million in community benefit provided in Fiscal Year 2010. This represents a return of approximately $10.43 for every $1 of tax support received from Tuscaloosa County.


Charity Care

Free care and discounted care given to persons deemed unable to pay based on established financial assistance policies.  Charity care does not include bad debt.  It should be reported in terms of costs, not charges.

Community Benefits

Community benefits are programs or activities that provide treatment and/or promote health and healing as a response to identified community needs.  They are not provided for marketing purposes.  A community benefit must meet at least one of the following criteria:
  • Generates a low or negative margin
  • Responds to needs of special populations, such as minorities, older persons and persons with disabilities who are living in poverty, persons with chronic mental illness, and other disenfranchised persons.
  • Supplies services or programs that would likely be discontinued --or would need to be provided by another not-for-profit or government provider--if the decision was made on a purely financial basis
  • Responds to public health needs
  • Involves education or research that improves overall community health

Medicaid/Public Program Expense  

Payment shortfall incurred when caring for patients with Medicaid coverage.  The payment shortfall is not the same as a contractual allowance, which is the full difference between charges and government payments.  It is the difference between reimbursement provided and the cost of care.

Community Health Improvement Services

Activities carried out for the express purpose of improving community health.  They extend beyond patient care activities and are usually subsidized by the health care organization.  Community services do not generate inpatient or outpatient bills, although there may be a nominal patient fee or sliding scale fee.  Forgiving inpatient and outpatient care bills to low-income persons should be reported as charity care.

Subsidized Health Services

Clinical services provided despite a financial loss.  The financial losses are so significant that negative margins remain after removing the effects of charity care and Medicaid shortfalls.  Nonetheless, the service is provided because it meets an identified community need and if no longer offered would either be unavailable in the area or fall to the responsibility of government or another not-for-profit organization to provide the care.

Cost of Health Professions Education

This category includes funding of educational programs that are open to all health professionals in the community or that result in a degree or training necessary to practice in a health profession.

Financial And In-Kind Contributions To Other Community Groups

This category includes funds and in-kind services donated to individuals or the community at large, including contributions and/or matching funds provided to not-for-profit community organizations, contributions to charity events of not-for-profit organizations after subtracting the market value of participation by the employees or organization, contributions provided to individuals for emergency assistance, and scholarships to community members not specific to health care professions.

Community Building Activities

Community building activities include cash donations, in-kind donations, and budgeted expenditures for the development of community health programs and partnerships.  Community-building enhancements include physical improvements, economic development, health community initiatives, partnerships, environmental improvements, and community leadership skills training.

Prisoner Care Written Off At Cost

DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center write off charges at cost for care provided to prisoners housed in city and county jails.

Bad Debt At Cost

Uncollectible charges, excluding contractual adjustments, arising from failure to pay by patients whose health care has not been classified as charity care.