Community Benefit

Is it Marketing

Please Take Note: The information provided does not constitute legal or tax advice. The material is provided for informational/educational purposes only. Please consult with counsel regarding your organization's particular circumstances.

Question: We have a Diabetes Education program and our educator sees in-patients and out-patients. One of the extra services she offers is a class — four 2.5 hour sessions. (Patients have to be referred by a physician.) I'm concerned that because it is offered through our Diabetes Education program, maybe it should not be counted. As the PR Manager at our Hospital, I find myself stumbling often over the question: Is this program/activity offered primarily for marketing or public relations?

Recommendation: It is always helpful to document the original intent of programs that you think should count as community benefit. Was the program established to achieve one or more specific community benefit objectives? Or, was it established to increase referrals to the hospital? Was it established to respond to the emerging standard of care? Your diabetes education class seems to be an extension of care to patients of the hospital. In fact, the classes seem to be part of their treatment plan.

Therefore, we recommend the classes should not be counted as community benefit. However, you can always report programs such as these in a narrative report.

(April 2009)