Fourteen hospitals and health systems, including RWJBarnabas Health, announced on Wednesday a commitment of over $700 million for place-based investing to create strong and healthy communities. These institutions include national and regional health systems and some of the largest private-sector employers in their states and regions.
“At RWJBarnabas Health, our mission is to create healthier communities,” said Barry Ostrowsky, president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health.
“As an anchor institution, we have a moral obligation to address the social and economic inequalities that plague our neighbors, particularly those who are most vulnerable,” said Ostrowsky. “We have incorporated intentional hiring practices, purchasing and place-based investment to spur growth and stimulate local economies. Collaborations with incredible organizations such as the Healthcare Anchor Network and its national partners enable us to collectively improve health outcomes, promote health equity, and eliminate health care disparities for people in the communities we serve and beyond.”
According to RWJBarnabas Health, health systems are uniquely positioned as leading employers and economic engines in their communities. In addition to providing quality health care, they can leverage institutional resources to help address the economic, racial and environmental resource disparities that impact community health outcomes.
The fourteen health systems are pledging to invest over $700 million toward impact investing. In addition to RWJBarnabas 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, 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 determinants 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.
RWJBarnabas Health said that it is investing in stable and affordable housing, a greenhouse in Newark, a mobile greenhouse and cooking school, vending and procuring local businesses including minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses, career ladders for frontline employees and violence prevention interventions.
RWJBarnabas Health, along with the other 13 institutions, is a member 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,” said Zuckerman.