There Are No Walls Around Caring
About two decades ago, a new term appeared on the health care horizon: Community Benefit. Margaret Raffin says the idea behind it was nothing new to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which had its beginnings some 60 years earlier, in 1930.
"Creating healthy communities is part of the fabric of PAMF. There has always been outreach," says Mrs. Raffin, who recently stepped down as chair of PAMF’s Community Board of Trustees. A longtime Board member, she has had many opportunities to see the concept in action.
Community benefit refers to PAMF programs and partnerships that exist to improve health and access to care. These activities often take place beyond the walls of PAMF’s patient-care settings in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Alameda counties. Often, PAMF partners with schools, senior centers and other organizations to strengthen health care safety nets and make life better for all of us, especially vulnerable children and families who live in poverty.
Out of PAMF’s many community benefit programs, Mrs. Raffin names three to demonstrate their diversity:
- Adolescent Behavioral Health Programs
"Working with schools to teach a positive lifestyle and prevent teen suicides."
- Community Health Resource Centers
"Making sure everyone has access to health care information, whether or not they are PAMF patients."
- Center for Health Systems Innovation
"Helping seniors stay healthy and out of nursing homes."
"Being not-for-profit means every dollar beyond expenses goes back into services," Mrs. Raffin explains. "A lot of people don’t realize this about PAMF. They also may not realize how much PAMF depends on contributions to these programs— because insurance reimbursements don’t address community benefit. Especially with health care reform we are going to need healthy communities. PAMF is very much a part of that. So is philanthropy."
And Mrs. Raffin is very much a part of PAMF. Although she no longer chairs the Board, she has promised to remain active, especially on behalf of the programs she holds dear. In fact, she envisions a future in which community benefit plays an even greater role.
"PAMF will always stand for health care, but also for access to whatever other resources you need for well-being and a healthy lifestyle." In other words, boundless caring, within and beyond PAMF’s walls.