Stanford Health Care’s annual investment in the community increases during pandemic

During its 2020 fiscal year, Stanford Health Care donated $861 million in funds and services, much of it to help patients, health care workers and nonprofit organizations address pandemic-related needs.

- By Mandy Erickson

Stanford Health Care increased its annual donations to the community last fiscal year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

From Sept. 1, 2019, to Aug. 31, 2020, the health system gave $861 million, 79% more than the previous fiscal year.

Much of the extra support went toward helping patients hospitalized with COVID-19, residents who struggled during business closures, and health care workers who needed housing and care for family members.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the critical importance of investing and engaging in community health,” said David Entwistle, president and CEO of the health care organization. “Stanford Health Care is proud to have served as an essential care resource for our community in a turbulent year, and we remain committed to supporting our neighbors with programs that foster health and well-being for decades to come.”

Help for social service agencies, nonprofits

As in previous years, Stanford Health Care donated to social service agencies that help low-income residents in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. In fiscal year 2020, it increased its support for the agencies, some of which saw a 500% jump in demand for services after the pandemic hit. The agencies provide residents with food, help paying rent and medical expenses, legal services, and other assistance.

Stanford Heath Care also donated funds to nonprofits for specific pandemic-related needs, such as laptops so that staff members could work from home, masks for farmworkers on San Mateo County’s rural coast and COVID-19 testing.

When other hospitals in California were filling with COVID-19 patients, Stanford Health Care took in hundreds of transfers to ease the burden on those hospitals, accepting many patients who lacked health insurance and covering the cost of their care. Every year, the health system covers the cost of uninsured patients; last fiscal year, it spent about $369 million to cover uncompensated care, an increase of nearly $100 million over the previous period.

“There was clearly a need in the community because of the pandemic,” said Alpa Vyas, vice president and chief patient experience officer at Stanford Health Care. “Our role as a health care provider is not only to support our patients but also to foster and engender public health locally. When so much of our community was in need, increasing our annual giving was the right and necessary thing to do.”

Supporting staff at Stanford Health Care

Stanford Health Care also supported its workers to ensure the hospital was operating at full capacity. Staff members who were afraid of infecting people in their homes with the coronavirus were provided with alternative housing. So were workers who were exposed to the virus or infected, and those who needed a place to sleep so they could work extra shifts.

In addition, the health system covered child-care expenses for parents of young children who were no longer in school, as well as elder care for workers with aging parents.

Jason Hill, associate vice president of government affairs at Stanford Health Care, said that the health care organization covered workers’ expenses to ensure they were comfortable coming to work and confident their family members were taken care of.

“One of the best way to benefit the community is to have a fully functional staff who can get to work and perform their jobs well,” he said.

Stanford Health Care also continued its support of programs that benefit community residents with such services as transportation and meal delivery for older adults, medical and dental care at clinics for indigent patients, health education, and home improvements. Donations to community health projects — including those to help with the pandemic — totaled about $308 million in fiscal year 2020.

Each year, Stanford Health Care funds training for the next generation of physicians, nurses and other health professionals; in fiscal year 2020, it spent about $137 million to support that training.

The health system also made donations during this period to help cover Stanford Life Flight, the emergency helicopter service; other health promotions; and administrative costs.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

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