This month, the Foster G. McGaw Prize in Excellence in Community Service awarded $100,000 to St. Joseph's/Candler Health System of Savannah, Georgia. Finalists at Seton Health Care of Austin, Cheyenne Regional Medical and Yale-New Haven Hospital all received $10,000 consolation prizes.
Two of the oldest not-for-profit health systems in the nation, St. Joseph's and Candler hospitals began collaborating in 1997. Together, they provide care for a total of 750,000 people in the Georgia and South Carolina area. They offer a variety of services to their community including programs on health and nutrition advocacy and awareness, translation services, care for people in the area without insurance, after-school tutoring and GED test preparation, job training, and financial management services.
Academic Medicine refers to McGaw as "the hospital industry's highest award for community service." It is given annually and sponsored by the American Hospital Association (AHA), Health Research & Educational Trust and the Baxter International Foundation.
So, who is likely to win in 2013?
Past recipients include Allegiance Health in Jackson, Michigan, who received the award in 2010 for their exemplary primary care, wound care, diagnostics and hospice service. In 2007, Memorial Healthcare System of Hollywood, Florida won for their work with the aging, homeless and at-risk youth. St. Mary's Hospital of Rochester, NY won in 1996 for exceptional primary and prenatal care, their work with the area's homeless population and health outreach. In 1986, the year of the prize's inception, it was awarded to Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Lutheran also worked closely with the elderly, children and organized outreach programs.
McGaw recognizes health providers for dedication, sensitivity to the communities, and the comprehensiveness an depth of the care they provide. According to their press release on the 2012 round of awards, the committee seeks out healthcare organizations "that provide[s] innovative programs that significantly improve the health and well-being of its community."
Reviewing this year's recipients amongst those over the past 25 years, the prize committee often seems to take kindly to programs that pay special attention to the very young and the very old.
Academic Medicine’s article on McGaw offers two more useful insights on their selection process. One is that their committee remains sensitive regarding “community response to, acceptance of, and participation in the organization's community service initiatives.” Also, as of the article's publication in 2004, “ten public hospitals and five large urban hospitals have been awarded the prize.”