HOUSTON (February 26, 2019)

A commitment to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations in Southeast Texas has placed Memorial Hermann Health System in distinguished company as a national finalist for the 2018 Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service.

It is the second time in five years that community health initiatives carried out by Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corporation have earned recognition from one of the country’s most esteemed community service honors in health care. The system was also a finalist for the 2013 Foster G. McGaw Prize.

“I am incredibly proud of our 112-year history of serving our Houston community,” said Memorial Hermann President and CEO Chuck Stokes. “Today, health care encompasses more than providing high-quality and safe care. It is about meeting people where they are in their healthcare journey and developing a plan as to how to improve their health status through access and affordability.”

The Community Benefit Corporation, a subsidiary of Memorial Hermann, strives to ensure that all people of the Greater Houston area have access to the care they need to improve their quality of life. The Corporation also works to improve the overall health of the community through programs implemented in coordination with other healthcare providers, government agencies, business leaders and community stakeholders.

Sponsored by the Baxter International Foundation, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its non-profit affiliate, the Health Research and Educational Trust, the Foster G. McGaw Prize is bestowed upon organizations that demonstrate a passion and a commitment to making communities healthier and more vital.

Memorial Hermann was named as one of only four finalists nationwide by the Foster G. McGaw Prize Committee, which selected its nominees based on an extensive review of the programs and initiatives undertaken by applicants to respond to their communities’ health needs.

The Prize Committee was especially impressed with several Memorial Hermann initiatives, each of which is grounded within the Community Benefit Corporation’s interconnecting pillars of access, emotional well-being, food as health and exercise is medicine.

  • Health Centers for Schools: Now 23 years old and spanning five school districts and 72 schools, the award-winning initiative offers access to primary medical, dental, mental health, nutritional, exercise and navigation services to uninsured and at-risk children at 10 school-based clinics and three mobile dental vans. It has been recognized by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services as one of the nation’s best models of successful collaboration between a health system and its surrounding school districts.
  • COPE for Better Health: Connecting the needs of the uninsured who use emergency rooms as a health home with community clinics for the last 10 years, COPE has studied usage patterns and has responded in program expansions covering health literacy, PCP 101, and diabetes prevention, as well as Project Lift, where staff work with high utilizers on key social issues impacting health.
  • Nurse Health Line: A free, 24-hour nurse triage call center launched by Memorial Hermann to answer health questions and assist anyone living in Texas in determining where they should go to receive care.
  • Transformational Mental Health Access: An innovative, continuum of care initiative aimed at addressing gaps for individuals requiring diagnosis, referral, treatment and self-management support for their mental health needs.
  • Food as Health: A food insecurity screening initiative incorporated across Memorial Hermann to address an issue that impacts one out of every five families in Greater Houston. Memorial Hermann has engaged with other organizations to address food insecurity, and collaborated with multiple partners to deliver fresh meals to food insecure families. This has led to the implementation of the evidenced-based Exercise is Medicine program, which incorporates exercise as a vital sign into physician offices, exercise prescriptions and the activation of parks. Together these programs improve the health and well-being of the Greater Houston community by combating behaviors that lead to chronic disease.

As a result of being selected as a Foster G. McGaw Prize finalist, Memorial Hermann will receive $10,000 and special recognition at the AHA’s annual meeting in April.

Other finalists included Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, Calif. and Tanner Health System in Carrollton, Ga. Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health in Lancaster, Pa. was awarded $100,000 for winning the 2018 Foster G. McGaw Prize.