Health System Leaders Announce over $700 Million in Investments to Address Health, Housing & Economic Inequalities through Community Wealth Building

Bon Secours Mercy Health joins 13 health systems, some of the largest employers in their states, to announce unprecedented investments to help address the economic, racial and environmental resource disparities that impact community health outcomes.

Fourteen hospitals and health systems, including Bon Secours Mercy Health, announced a commitment of over $700 million for place-based investing to create strong and healthy communities. These institutions include national and regional health systems are some of the largest private sector employers in their states and regions.

“Bon Secours Mercy Health has a long-standing, deep commitment to enhancing the health, well-being and economic vitality of entire communities,” said John Starcher, president and CEO of Bon Secours Mercy Health. “By using an anchor mission approach that leverages our organization’s many resources, Bon Secours Mercy Health will be able to enhance the availability of sustainable health, social and economic resources necessary for meeting the needs and aspirations of diverse populations. We are proud to be part of the Healthcare Anchor Network and work with peer organizations in supporting innovative community-based solutions.”

Health systems are uniquely positioned as leading employers and economic engines in their communities. In addition to providing quality healthcare, they can leverage institutional resources to help address the economic, racial and environmental resource disparities that impact community health outcomes.
Why are these investments needed? These health systems know that the need to address the fundamental root causes of poor health is immense and they wanted to take action now. They also want to deepen institutional leadership in the Healthcare Anchor Network, and the healthcare sector more broadly, by making bold, measurable commitments in this core Anchor Mission strategy area.

Despite record low unemployment and an overall strong economy, our country is experiencing systematically deepening disparities in its economic, health, and well-being outcomes. We live in a world where your zip code could mean a lifespan a decade shorter than someone in a neighboring wealthier area. A recent NYU study showed that 56 of some of the biggest U.S. cities have very large life expectancy gaps, where on average people in one neighborhood can expect to live 20 to 30 years longer than their neighbors a few miles away.

Factors outside hospital walls—social, economic, environmental, and behavior-related—account for up to 80 percent of the health outcomes a community experiences. In addition to providing quality healthcare, these hospitals and health systems are investing in safe and affordable housing, equitable economic development, small/diverse business development, and other strategies for addressing the social determinants of health. They are also rethinking how to very intentionally align, leverage, and deploy their human resources and procurement power to create a local economic eco-system to support economic and health wellness.

The fourteen health systems are pledging to invest over $700 million toward impact investing. In addition to Bon Secours Mercy Health, the other 13 health systems are: Advocate Aurora Health, Anchorum St. Vincent, Bon Secours Mercy Health, Boston Medical Center, CommonSpirit Health, Einstein Healthcare Network, Henry Ford Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, ProMedica, Rush University Medical Center, RWJBarnabas Health, Trinity Health, and UMass Memorial Health Care.

The goal is to create sustainable returns for the institutions while deploying that investment capital to address social determinant of health needs in their communities. Place-based investing creates healthy and thriving communities by increasing available capital for positive social, economic, or environmental impact. It supports local and diverse business development and empowers low-income people to create, manage, and own enterprises. These investments will be leveraged several times over to have an even greater impact in communities nationwide.

HAN systems’ investments include financing for affordable housing development, building a new grocery store in a food desert, childcare centers, federally qualified health centers, and Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and local businesses.

There’s also a business impact case for the social impact investing. These institutions can further align their capital with sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and community benefit priorities. They can also achieve a more diversified and impactful investment strategy.

Bon Secours Mercy Health, along with the other 13 institutions are members of the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) that supports health systems to accelerate learning and local implementation of economic inclusion strategies. The HAN hospitals and health systems together employ more than 1.5 million people, purchase over $50 billion annually, and have over $100 billion in investment assets.

“In the last two-and-a-half years, the HAN members have moved forward to collaborate on strategies and to align their business operations to tackle the structural and economic drivers of poor health through place-based investing, as well as through local, inclusive hiring and procurement,” stated Dave Zuckerman, HAN Director. “Anchor mission work utilizes and leverages local community resources to address jobs, training, small business support, and equitable community development. It’s individual and community wealth building,” added Zuckerman.