Children's hospitals provide much-needed service and care for families and their children, whether an injury or terminal illness or just routine care for mental or physical conditions. In any case, these hospitals are truly the guiding light and saving grace for families around the world, and they need the support of businesses, communities, and individuals in order to continue providing life-changing care.
Of course, there is no shortage of myths and misunderstandings with children's hospitals, so let's bust some of the myths to give you a better understanding of what these hospitals can and can't do.
Common Myths About Children's Hospitals
Without a doubt, you've probably heard some of these myths before. Whether or not you believe them, it's important to know the facts.
Myth 1: All children's hospitals are nonprofit organizations.
There are, in fact, for-profit children's hospitals. Of course, nonprofit hospitals can also make a profit (contrary to popular belief).
Myth 2: For-profit children's hospitals don't need my help.
Just because they are for-profit, it doesn't mean they don't need your support. Many smaller for-profit hospitals lack funding and rely on sponsored equipment and other donations.
Myth 3: Children's hospitals get an abundance of funding.
Over 60% of all hospitals in the nation are nonprofit and rely on donations and grants to support their operations. While most for-profits spend less on charity care than they do on training initiatives and research, charity care is becoming less necessary as more children become insured under Medicaid and other programs. However, most hospitals lose money on children with Medicaid.
Myth 4: Children's hospitals direct most money to advertising.
St. Jude is an excellent example of how a children's hospital typically manages money, where nearly 80% of all donations go straight to treatment. The other 20% is divided amongst the costs of administration and fundraising efforts.
Myth 5: Children's hospitals spend too much money on fundraising.
Continuing with the St. Jude example, only 16% of all donations go toward fundraising efforts. Additionally, it's important to recognize that fundraising efforts are essential for sustaining a hospital's operations.
Myth 6: It's better to donate directly to families in need.
While donating directly to a family in need can make a major personal impact, donating to a children's hospital has the potential to make a much more far-reaching impact.
Myth 7: Children's hospitals pay their staff too much money.
Nonprofit hospitals direct almost all donations toward child care. However, for-profit hospitals have varying pay rates for not only staff, but also executives. You should always thoroughly examine any organization before donating.
Myth 8: Children's hospitals take advantage of volunteers.
Certain, temporary volunteers can work for free, but all hospitals, whether for-profit or nonprofit, must pay regular staff according to the minimum wage laws defined by the state and federal governments.
Myth 9: Children's hospitals always provide free care.
Only some hospitals are equipped to provide free care. In general, families are advised to seek free or low-cost insurance as opposed to free care directly from hospitals.
Myth 10: The promise of free care at some hospitals is a lie.
St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital promises that families never pay for "treatment, travel, housing, or food," and this promise rings true. Nonprofits are closely scrutinized and those promising free, charity care most certainly offer it.
Myth 11: Children's hospitals only help the poor and needy.
While some hospitals prioritize needy children, not all of them are devoted to helping families that are struggling financially.
Myth 12: Children's hospitals are always equipped with the right resources.
In reality, children's hospitals function on tight budgets that often require grants or other supplementary funding.
Myth 13: There isn't much individuals can do to help children's hospitals.
In addition to donating money, most individuals can find volunteer and fundraising opportunities.
Myth 14: A monetary donation is the only way to help a children's hospital.
While monetary donations are helpful, there are many creative ways to get involved — like with a crayon donation drive.
Myth 15: Volunteering makes a bigger impact than giving ever could.
Volunteering can have a major impact, especially if a person has special skills to offer. However, monetary donations also go far, especially if you donate to a nonprofit hospital that carefully manages its finances.
Myth 16: It takes a lot to sponsor a children's hospital.
Businesses don't need to make a huge donation to help. A restaurant recycling its used crayons, for instance, is one way to support a children's hospital.
Myth 17: Children's hospitals actually help very few families.
The number of beds a children's hospital has directly impacts its ability to help a large number of families.
Myth 18: My donation would help very few families.
The impact of your donation would depend entirely on the hospital you're donating to and how they manage their funds, but it has a huge potential.
Myth 19: Children's hospitals are all created equal.
For-profit and nonprofit children's hospitals operate very differently. It's important to research and investigate any hospital before offering your support.
Myth 20: The best children's hospitals are ranked nationally.
While some children's hospitals have national rankings, these lists tend to overlook smaller hospitals altogether. These often have the biggest impact, even if they don't have the capacity to help a large area.