5 safety-net hospitals, health systems to know

America's health system relies on safety-net hospitals to provide care for millions of vulnerable, uninsured patients who endure economic hardships. The hospitals also serve many Medicaid beneficiaries and patients that require special services.

Despite the integral role they play in their communities, they are rarely recognized for the essential services they provide.

Here are five safety-net hospitals in major U.S. cities to know, listed in alphabetical order.

Boston Medical Center. BMC is a private, nonprofit, 496-bed academic medical center and the primary teaching affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine. BMC is the largest safety-net hospital and busiest trauma and emergency services center in New England. BMC is led by Kate Walsh, who serves as president and CEO. She received both her bachelor's degree and a master's degree in public health from Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Prior to joining BMC, Ms. Walsh served as executive vice president and COO of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for five years.

Cook County Health and Hospitals System (Chicago). CCHHS provides safety-net healthcare to residents of Chicago and suburban Oak Forest, Ill. Many of its clinicians have been locally and nationally recognized for excellence. The system is led by CEO John Jay Shannon, MD. After earning his medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago, Dr. Shannon gained experience in the safety-net space on the medical staff of John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital of Cook County and as executive vice president and CMO of Dallas' safety-net system, Parkland Health & Hospital System.

Norwegian American Hospital (Chicago). NAH has served residents of the Near Northwest Side of Chicago for 120 years. This 200-bed acute care facility provides its community with a myriad of services including inpatient and same-day surgery, outpatient pharmacy, radiology department, intensive care unit, pediatrics unit, emergency department and a multitude of women's healthcare programs including a midwife program. President and CEO José R. Sánchez has more than three decades of experience as a healthcare executive. Mr. Sánchez is the architect of an annual national health forum — extant since 2001 — that brings together more than 300 healthcare providers to focus on the disparities in care for minority populations and strategies to eliminate these inequities.

Sinai Health System (Chicago). Sinai is a four-hospital safety-net health system that operates under the tagline "Making Lives Better." The system got its start in 1919 with the opening of Mount Sinai Hospital. In the beginning, the hospital was a 60-bed facility created to serve Eastern European Jewish immigrants in need and to educate Jewish physicians that were being denied scholastic access elsewhere. Today, the hospital serves communities that are predominately African-American and Latino, and the Sinai system has grown to incorporate seven separate facilities that deliver a full range of high-quality care to Chicago communities on the South and Southwest side. The four hospitals in the system are Mount Sinai Hospital, Holy Cross Hospital, Sinai Children's Hospital and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. Under the tenure of President and CEO Karen Teitelbaum, SHS has garnered national recognition in quality and significantly reduced costs due to greater efficiency and management of population health.

St. Bernard Hospital (Chicago). SBH's history began more than a century ago, and the hospital has evolved alongside the community over the years. Of the four hospitals that once served the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, SBH is the only that remains. The organization is committed to providing quality healthcare and promoting community wellness in the South Side of Chicago. Charles Holland, the president and CEO of SBH, began working in senior leadership roles at the hospital in 1998. As the executive director of the hospital's nonprofit housing development operation, he oversaw work on Bernard Place, the hospital's affordable housing project, which received the prestigious Richard H. Driehaus Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Neighborhood Real Estate Project in 2004.

Do you know a safety-net system that should be profiled on our next safety-net hospitals and health systems list? Email Brian Zimmerman at bzimmerman@beckershealthcare.com and it could be included in a new installation on this list.

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