OPED: WellSpan a valuable resource for York County

Steven Hovis and William Dannehl
WellSpan Health
WellSpan Hospital. Bill Kalina/photo

Like so many of our friends and neighbors, we are proud to call York County home. What’s more, we are passionate about ensuring the good health of those who have chosen to reside, raise their families and build their careers in this great community.

It is because of this commitment to our hometown that we volunteer as leaders on the governing boards of WellSpan Health and WellSpan York Hospital, roles through which we bear witness to the efforts of more than 20,000 WellSpan employees, volunteers and medical staff members who passionately and compassionately touch the lives of thousands of people each day.

In the past two decades, WellSpan has extended its charitable mission well beyond its original service region. What began as York Hospital in 1880 has become the only locally-governed health system in central Pennsylvania, serving more than a million people in Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

We are proud that WellSpan was born in York, and, as board leaders, we take seriously our responsibility to ensure that the health system’s success translates to a stronger, more vibrant city and county.

Those who know WellSpan understand the breadth and depth of the partnerships that the organization has forged here at home. For evidence, look no further than the health system’s 2018 Community Benefit Report, which was published this month and made available online at

Steve Hovis

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As you read through the many statistics and compelling stories of lives that have been impacted, you will learn that WellSpan provided $190.3 million of community benefit in 2018. More than half of this was provided here in York County, including millions of dollars in free and discounted medical, dental and pharmaceutical services for those who have trouble paying for the care they need.

Recognizing the important role that a strong city plays in the good health of the county, WellSpan enjoys a rich history of working with local officials to understand and address the needs of those who live and work in the City of York.

Access to quality health care services has emerged as one of the most pressing needs of city residents over the past decade and beyond. In response, the health system has established a network of convenient medical and dental services, subsidizing more than $7 million annually to cover the cost of providing the services in the city. These include the WellSpan Community Health Center, the Hoodner Dental Center and the Thomas Hart Family Practice Center, to cite a few.

Other examples of WellSpan’s commitment to making York a healthier, safer and more economically vibrant city are visible and well-appreciated by many.

William Dannehl

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We have heard from so many city residents who respect and admire Dr. Matt Howie. WellSpan pays Dr. Howie’s salary so that he may serve as the medical director of the York City Bureau of Health. We’ve also heard from York City Police Chief Troy Bankert and many officers who benefit from the new police training center and the body cameras that the health system was honored to underwrite. And we are gratified to see so many people pack our downtown business and cultural district every month for First Friday, an event for which WellSpan proudly serves as the presenting sponsor.

Between 2017 and 2019, WellSpan will contribute an additional $2.1 million in donations to the City of York, including $1.5 million to support public safety. This includes support for the city’s Group Violence Intervention initiative and an ongoing partnership with York College to fund the Southwest Community Policing Initiative.

For all the talk of taxes, what often gets lost in the conversation is that WellSpan does indeed pay taxes.

Although it is a charitable nonprofit organization, WellSpan pays taxes on the many properties it owns and leases, except its main hospital campuses where staff provide the greatest proportion of charity care for our community’s most vulnerable citizens. Last year, the health system paid $277,000 in property tax payments to the York City School District and $156,000 in property taxes to the City of York.

But the dollars are far less important than the countless individuals whose lives have been positively impacted by the highly skilled professionals who staff the hospitals, physician offices, surgery centers and home care organization that bear the trusted WellSpan Health logo.

If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic injury, chances are they were treated at WellSpan York Hospital, the only Level 1 Regional Resource Trauma Center in York, Adams, Franklin, Lancaster and Lebanon counties. Experts there treat more than 2,100 traumatic injuries every year.

For babies born prematurely or with complex medical conditions, parents can feel secure in knowing they have access to the largest neonatal intensive care unit in seven counties.

As we enter this season of giving thanks, we, along with our colleagues on the governing boards of WellSpan Health, reflect gratefully upon the compassion, skill and determination that the people of WellSpan Health demonstrate for the well-being of our friends and neighbors – every hour of every day.

For the entire WellSpan family — board members, executives, physicians, nurses and all employees — building a better community is simply what neighbors do.

— Steven Hovis is chairman of the WellSpan Health Board of Directors and a partner at Stock and Leader Attorneys at Law in York. William Dannehl is chairman of the WellSpan York Hospital Board of Directors, and ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­chief operating officer of New Standard Corp.