Nonprofit health system Providence has a goal of making Orange County the healthiest region in the country.
A main roadblock to that goal are the health equity challenges seen in the county.
As highlighted by the pandemic, disadvantaged individuals—including residents of higher-density cities, people of color and lower-income individuals—are disproportionately impacted not just by disease outbreaks, but by the healthcare system as a whole.
Providence is aiming to change that through an expansion of its health centers and urgent care facilities, and through partnerships with like-minded organizations with an established presence in lower-income communities.
It’s one reason the health system, which oversees three of the six largest hospitals in OC, was named to this week’s edition of the Business Journal’s annual listing of Companies That Care, the centerpiece of this week’s print edition.
“One in 500 Black Americans died during the pandemic. The generational impact of that should activate all of us to make a difference,” Providence Regional Chief Philanthropy Officer Kenya Beckmann told the Business Journal.
One organization Providence has turned to is the TGR Foundation, the Irvine-based education-focused charity started by golfer Tiger Woods.
“We wanted to get COVID-19 resources into communities that were disproportionately affected, and we needed a network of trust to do so,” Beckmann said.
Providence tapped TGR’s Learning Lab, a 35,000-square-foot education facility in Anaheim, to distribute care packages with COVID-19 tests and information on how to avoid contracting the disease.
“Our whole mission, which stems back to Tiger, is about providing opportunities and access for kids who wouldn’t otherwise have it,” TGR CEO and President Gordon McNeill told the Business Journal.
That partnership marked the beginning of TGR’s and Providence’s relationship, with Beckmann, McNeill and Providence Regional CEO Kevin Manemann kicking off discussions on how to make a deeper healthcare impact in TGR’s communities, specifically Anaheim, Santa Ana and Garden Grove—the three hardest hit cities in OC during the pandemic.
Providence “shares our goal of empowering students to pursue their passions and achieve their dreams,” Tiger Woods said.
Providence showed up in full force for the relaunch of TGR’s Learning Lab in September following a $1.5 million renovation that overhauled the facility that first opened in 2006, updating the design and technology.
“We wanted to make sure our facility was up to snuff for our students as they returned following the pandemic. It makes a big difference for them to be in a bright and modern building,” McNeill said.
The healthcare organization had caregivers on hand to provide free health screenings for children and their parents, some of whom are undocumented and typically rely on expensive urgent care visits.
“TGR serves 2 million people, 90% of which are at or below the poverty line,” Beckmann said. “Students who are part of the learning lab are comfortable there, and if we are embedded in their community, we can increase and improve healthcare access for them.”
The relationship helped spark the idea for TGR’s Pathways Forward program, which partners with local companies to provide internships and classes to give students business skills to help them in their future careers.
Providence, the largest partner of the program, has created classes with TGR that focus on several different aspects of healthcare, from robotic surgery programs to real estate, with students able to participate in the $712 million expansion of Providence hospitals and urgent care facilities in Mission Viejo, Rancho Mission Viejo and San Clemente.
Other corporate partners include credit reporting giant Experian of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach’s Genesis Bank, Nick Gross’ Find Your Grind and Walter Cruttenden’s Learn & Earn.
Providence has tapped five individuals within its organization to serve as mentors for the Earl Woods Scholar Program, which provides 25 students each year with a full college scholarship, focusing on students from challenging backgrounds, or those lacking financial support.
“We have 35,000 caregivers in Southern California, and everyone is excited to be involved and help, but we don’t want to overwhelm them,” Beckmann said. “Part of our goal is to find out what these students actually need, and meet them there.”
Providence’s partnership with TGR, called Empowered Health, today focuses on health equity interventions, health education and workforce development.
“Providence is tapping into an established relationship in the areas we serve,” McNeill said. “These students are coming into our facilities and benefitting from these healthcare resources, and then they can share that with their parents, many of whom don’t speak English.”
$300M Community Benefit
Beckmann’s position is a unique one—in addition to heading Providence’s philanthropic efforts, she also heads fundraising efforts to finance expansion efforts, whether it’s a new hospital or a new medical device.
The efforts are similar, she notes.
“We show our commitment to our communities through giving back, and in turn, our donors support us because they have that same commitment to their community,” Beckmann said, adding that a bulk of Providence’s donors are individuals.
“Philanthropy has the power to democratize goodness in healthcare,” Beckmann said.
Providence is still in the design phase of its two new multispecialty medical centers in South Orange County, and a new patient care tower at Providence Mission Hospital, a 504-bed acute acre regional medical center near The Shops at Mission Viejo.
Providence counts 17 hospitals in California, which employ 44,700 and generated $9.9 billion in revenue in 2021.
It reported 2021 operating revenue of $27.3 billion, which was under operating expenses of $28 billion. It had a similar result in 2020 when operating revenue of $25.7 billion fell short of $26 billion in expenses.
Providence provided $300 million to Orange County last year through partnerships, research, health services and unpaid Medicaid costs, according to a community benefit report.