“Go into the neighborhoods, find out what disorders exist and try
to remedy them through your own efforts if you can, or through others
who have some influence over those involved…” – Father
Jean-Pierre Medaille, founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph, 1650.
In 1650, a small group of women religious in the French town of Le Puy,
boldly left the confines of the convent to go into the neighborhoods.
Their purpose: to build relationships with the community, learn the community’s
needs, and together with their neighbors, create solutions. These courageous
pioneers were the Sisters of St. Joseph – the forebears of those
who founded St. Joseph Health (SJH) and its ministries. More than 350
years later, their passion and dedication to serving the “dear neighbor” lives on.
SJH’s commitment to Community Benefit is part of that legacy –
embedded in our mission, vision and values, and exemplified in our commitment
to building and sustaining the healthiest communities.
Today, SJH Community Benefit activities are also guided by five
Core Principles for Community Benefit – a set of standards that help ensure our efforts promote meaningful
and positive change in our communities.
We recognize that many factors – biological, social, economic and
environmental – affect an individual’s, and a community’s,
health and wellbeing. That’s why SJH Community Benefit programs
take many forms: from free or deeply discounted medical care for those
who lack insurance or can’t afford to pay, to comprehensive support
and care management services to low-income and uninsured/underinsured
individuals living with chronic health problems, to education efforts
aimed at reducing the stigma of mental health conditions in the community.
Responding to Community Needs
Each of our hospitals conducts a community health needs assessment every
three years, reaching out to community residents, civic leaders, community
organizations and other stakeholders for input. The results help us better
understand unmet community needs, and in turn, shape the priorities and
funding decisions for our local hospitals’ Community Benefit programs.
In West Texas, we fund mobile dental clinics that increase access to care
for low-income families and adults who lack dental insurance. In Southern
California, we fund community health clinics in low-income neighborhoods
without access to convenient, affordable care. In Northern California,
Family Resource Centers offer help and support not only to those needing
medical care, but also those facing hunger, homelessness, addiction and
For more information about Community Benefit at SJH, please email us at
Our foundresses, The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, have a profound legacy
of responding to the needs of the communities they served, in whatever
way they could. In fact, it was the devastating influenza epidemic of
1918 that led to the opening of the Sisters’ first hospital in Eureka,
CA, and the creation of their health care ministry.