The City of St. Louis – the “Gateway to the West” – is one of the country’s most storied cities. Today, it remains a hotbed of innovation and philanthropy. For years, BJC has been an anchor and champion of the City. Our organization is headquartered here and we are investing here. We are deep within disparate neighborhoods in ways both small and large, from grants to help encourage healthy activities in school and at home to major philanthropic investments, such as Cortex, now one of the nation’s most renowned tech startup districts.
Our mission is not just to provide health care, but to ensure our communities are getting healthier – and that is a mission that often has ambition beyond the walls of our hospitals. To that end, our system delivers more than $600 million in community benefit each year, much of it right here in the City of St. Louis. Our non-profit status allows us to invest in our surrounding community in this way and we look forward to working with City stakeholders to ensure we maintain the ability to do so.
The City's Board of Aldermen has expressed some interest in passing a new tax on all non-profits in the City to raise revenue for public safety. Its supporters have suggested that non-profits use City police and fire services that we do not pay for. They fail to account, however, for the hundreds of public safety officers we employ on our campus; the millions of dollars we invest in emergency management, including the Joint Public Safety Center operated by Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University; and the network of cameras and other public safety initiatives we support on our campus and in neighboring communities. Simply put, we are not "takers" of public resources when it comes to public safety - we are providers.
This new tax would limit our ability to engage in community services; it would hamper our partners across the area, many of whom are smaller non-profit organizations; and, it sends the wrong message to philanthropic institutions. We will work with the City to address its long term public safety challenges, but we will also vigorously defend against attempts to tax charitable organizations.
Gun Violence Prevention
Gun violence has a profound impact on our patients and our employees. Too often, victims of violence are treated by our trauma centers, particularly those in the City of St. Louis. We have specific case workers whose mission is to help reduce additional violence once our patients leave our facilities after an episode of care. Through community partnerships we hope to mitigate the challenges within our communities and promote healthy mind, body and spirit. We stand at the ready to engage in thoughtful discussions and initiatives designed to eliminate gun violence in our community.
Tobacco 21 is a movement around the country to move the limit to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. This age demographic (18-21) is significant for two key reasons. First, it is largely responsible for purchasing tobacco products for minors under the age of 18. Second, most (90%) of smokers begin the habit before they are 21. With these statistics in mind, we know that in the long term, a key strategy to reducing the overall incidence of smoking is to stop the habit where it's formed - in youth. By moving the limit up to 21, we will be helping to curb access to minors and will postpone others from legally picking up this dangerous habit until a time when they are much less likely to even begin smoking at all.
Here in Missouri, several cities have taken this extraordinary step to help reduce tobacco use. We endorsed and supported St. Louis County and St. Louis City in their recent, successful efforts in joining those ranks.
Much of the focus on health care is often directed towards the “future of care” and sometimes arrives at discussions about using technology to deliver care (some call it telehealth or telemedicine). Nevertheless, patients have and will continue to have the need to be able to travel to receive care. And, here in metropolitan St. Louis, many of our patients lack basic access to care because they cannot afford the trip. That means we often build our plans around the availability of a bus stop, metro station, or other form of public transportation. We strongly support efforts to make navigating St. Louis easier.
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Page updated 11/1/17