St. Mary provides $12 million in charity care

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Providence St. Mary Medical Center provided more than $12 million in charity care last year for the poor and through other programs, a recently released report from the Walla Walla hospital revealed.

According to the medical center's Community Benefit Report, the Poplar Street hospital spent $12.2 million in 2009. The funds cover free and discounted care for the poor, as well as gaps in unfunded portions of government-sponsored medical care, medical education and research, and free community programs and services, among other things.

Community benefit is part of the medical center's mission care for the poor and underserved, said Kathleen Obenland, St. Mary's director of public affairs, in the announcement.

The full report is available at www.smmc.com . To view it, click on "Living our Mission" in the lower right side.

Here's a glimpse of some highlights:

Free and discounted care for those unable to pay their medical bills rose to $2.9 million in 2009 from $2.3 million the previous year. That figure is expected to jump this year.

Another $36,000 went to subsidized services. These are some of the clinical services that the medical center offers to help patients, even though it cannot bill for them.

Providence St. Mary spent nearly $8 million covering the unfunded portion of government sponsored medical care. The bulk of this is the Medicaid program for the poor. (Medicare is not included in the tally.)

The hospital spent $338,000 in donations to the community, and providing free classes, public education and support groups. This includes cash donations to organizations like the Lincoln Health Center, which provides free care to at-risk teens, and staff time to offer our many classes and groups.

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Inland Cellular's Family Movie Night Downtown will make its seasonal premiere Friday.

"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," the story of a young inventor whose creation makes food fall from the sky, will begin at dusk at Heritage Square Park, located on Main Street between Spokane and Colville streets.

The free movie series -- which also run the second Fridays of July and August -- are sponsored by Inland Cellular and presented by the city of Walla Walla's Parks amp; Recreation Department and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation. Guests should bring a lawn chair or blanket for sitting. Concessions will be available. For more details, call 529-8755.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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