Palmetto Health in Columbia, South Carolina, Receives Prestigious $100,000 Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service

Press Release

Chicago -

Finalists from Grand Rapids, Michigan; Los Angeles and Philadelphia Also Recognized

In honor of its broad-based efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of its community, Palmetto Health in Columbia, South Carolina, is the recipient of the 2014 Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service, one of the most esteemed community service honors in healthcare. The healthcare system was named a finalist for the award in 2011.

Each year, this $100,000 prize is presented to a healthcare organization that provides innovative programs that significantly improve the health and well-being of its community. The Foster G. McGaw Prize is sponsored by The Baxter International Foundation, and the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Health Research & Educational Trust.

Named as finalists for this year's award and receiving $10,000 each are Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan; White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles; and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"As a safety-net healthcare system, Palmetto Health strives to create and implement initiatives that reduce health disparities," said John O'Brien, chair of the Foster G. McGaw Prize Committee. "The system's outstanding community benefit programs target the root causes of poor health – whether physical, mental or emotional. Through numerous initiatives, Palmetto Health provides much needed care to the underserved, encourages residents to take charge of their health, and addresses the mental and emotional well-being of its community. To succeed with these programs, Palmetto Health leaders work in partnership with many other organizations, and together form the foundation of a strong and sustainable community commitment."

The region's largest, most comprehensive, locally owned and governed, not-for-profit health resource, Palmetto Health treats nearly half a million patients each year at its five acute-care hospitals, expansive physician practice network and dozens of affiliated clinics and specialty care practices. The organization is dedicated not only to advancing health quality and patient safety, but also to providing care to patients with compassion, regardless of ability to pay. Created in 1998 through the merger of two of the area's major hospital systems, Palmetto Health contributes 10 percent of its bottom line to programs and services for indigent, uninsured and underserved populations in its service area. After 16 years, the organization has funded $42 million for these community programs, expanding access to care and eliminating the drastic healthcare disparities within the socioeconomically and racially diverse communities it serves.

"Every day, more than 10,000 team members, physicians and volunteers live our vision, 'to be remembered by each patient as providing the care and compassion we want for our families and ourselves,' to guide the care they provide to our community," said Charles D. Beaman Jr., Palmetto Health CEO. "I'm honored that the American Hospital Association is recognizing their hard work as we continue to strive to improve the physical, emotional and spiritual health of all individuals and communities we serve." Among other programs, Palmetto Health was recognized for the following innovative community service initiatives:

  • Changing Lifestyles - South Carolina ranks as the seventh highest state in the nation in percentage of adults with diabetes. In an effort to help patients live healthier, more fulfilling lives, this program recruits individuals through health screenings and works to help pre-diabetics delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes through supervised exercise, nutrition classes and counseling. Adults enrolled in the program have made significant health improvements over the past three years, including 64 percent showing measurable improvements in health indicators such as body mass index, weight, blood pressure, waist circumference and A1C levels, a blood test used to gauge how well a person is managing their diabetes.
  • Better Together - Palmetto Health recognizes the value of community partnerships to effectively care for its patients. In 2013 alone, Palmetto Health partnered to provide more than $13 million in services, including bereavement and grief support, car seat safety checks, breastfeeding classes, asthma education, speaking engagements, cancer support groups, swim clinics, scholarships and school partnerships.
  • Healthy Choices - Every day, 15 teenagers give birth in South Carolina. Teen moms are less likely to receive proper education and prenatal care and more likely to live at or below the poverty level. Palmetto Health works to provide healthier solutions for teens in the state through its Teen Health Initiative. The program includes Teen Talk, a weekly youth development program for middle and high school students, an annual Teen Health Summit event and Palmetto Healthy Start (PHS), which provides education and support to young moms.  In 2013, the rate of infant mortality was 1.2 per 1,000 live births for PHS participants, compared with 8.4 per live births for non-PHS participants.

"The Foster G. McGaw Prize recognizes healthcare organizations that serve as role models for improving the health and well-being of the people in their communities," said O'Brien. "This year's winner and finalists exemplify what it takes to meet the unique needs of their communities. Through leadership and collaboration with community partners, they enhance the lives of their vulnerable populations and all those they serve."

2014 Finalists
Three Foster G. McGaw Prize finalists were also recognized for their significant accomplishments in community service. Each received a $10,000 prize:

  • Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for its efforts to improve the health of the communities it serves through a healthy food partnership aimed at needy individuals, a healthy lifestyle program and a school health advocacy program.
  • White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, for its devotion to providing quality care for the whole person – mind, body and spirit – with the goal of extending health and wellness to its community.
  • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, for its ability to work in partnership with families and community groups to promote health and wellness among vulnerable children in the Philadelphia area.

Palmetto Health, the largest health care system in the Midlands and third largest non-governmental employer in South Carolina, is composed of more than 10,000 team members, physicians and volunteers working together to fulfill Palmetto Health's vision: to be remembered by each patient as providing the care and compassion we want for our families and ourselves. The system includes five acute-care hospitals – Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital and Palmetto Health Richland – as well as an expansive physician practice network, dozens of affiliated clinics and specialty care practices and a 501(c)(3) foundation. Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, the region's newest hospital located in northwest Columbia, opened in spring 2014. Recognized nationally as one of the best places to work and receive care, Palmetto Health also trains the next generation of physicians through its 23 residency and fellowship programs affiliated with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. For more information, visit

The Foster G. McGaw Prize, celebrating nearly 30 years of honoring excellence in community service, recognizes healthcare organizations that are committed to community service through a range of programs that demonstrate a passion and continuous commitment to making communities healthier and more vital. The prize, first awarded in 1986, inspires hospitals, health systems and communities to assess and implement programs that improve their communities. For more information, visit

The American Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association of healthcare provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information visit

The Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), helps organizations expand access to healthcare in the United States and around the world. The foundation, established in 1981, focuses exclusively on increasing access to healthcare particularly for the disadvantaged and underserved in communities where Baxter employees live and work. Baxter International Inc., through its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures and markets products that save and sustain the lives of people with hemophilia, immune disorders, cancer, infectious diseases, kidney disease, trauma and other chronic and acute medical conditions. As a global, diversified healthcare company, Baxter applies a unique combination of expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to create products that advance patient care worldwide. For more information, visit

Founded in 1944, the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) is a private, not-for-profit organization involved in research, education and demonstration programs addressing health management and policy issues. An affiliate of the American Hospital Association, HRET collaborates with healthcare, government, academic, business and community organizations across the United States to conduct research and disseminate findings that shape the future of healthcare. For more information about HRET, visit