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Q&A: Crozer-Keystone’s Frances Sheehan


The new Crozer is still a work in progress. But one thing is known: After its July 2016 sale to Prospect Medical Holdings, Crozer-Keystone Health System became a for-profit company. It remains to be seen how that will affect its five hospitals, many of which have low-income, scantily insured patient populations.

Working with people in that demographic is familiar to Frances Sheehan, president of the newly formed Crozer-Keystone Community Foundation. She was poached from the Brandywine Health Foundation, where she was heralded for initiatives in Coatesville and other areas blighted with crime and poverty.

What are Sheehan’s plans for CKCF and Delaware County? She shared a few details.

MLT: Did Prospect form the foundation as an act of goodwill, or was it required to do so?

FS: Both, but it was a legal requirement. Because Crozer was sold to a for-profit company, the nonprofit assets had to be set aside in an independent charity. Delaware County Orphans’ Court and the attorney general signed off on establishing the foundation. We report to them on a regular basis so that the nonprofit benefit to the community is protected.

MLT: What is CKCF’s operating budget?

FS: Annually, it’s $3.5 million for existing programs. In addition, there is up to $1 million to $2 million in grants.

MLT: Creating a foundation from scratch must be exciting.

FS: It is. CKCF will be making grants and running programs throughout Delaware County. We will be the largest philanthropy serving Delaware County and the only health philanthropy serving the entire county. But while the foundation is new, we have inherited the public health programs that Crozer was running for years, and very successfully.

MLT: There’s been concern that the for-profit Crozer will have to pull back on some of its community health programs. 

FS: The goal is to continue them and build upon them.

MLT: The needs are vast and varied in Delaware County. How are you creating programming priorities?

FS: We’re looking at data from recent needs assessments of folks who live in Delco. We know that lung cancer, infant mortality, racial disparities in birth rates, and food insecurity are issues. What’s unusual about CKCF is that we already have Crozer’s gold standard, evidence-based programs, and dedicated staff. We run the county’s WIC program. We have nurse-family programs, a youth-development program called Blueprints, and other programs that change lives.

MLT: Your work at the Brandywine Health Foundation made a tremendous impact on people’s lives. What are the similarities and differences between the area that BHF serves and Delaware County?

FS: Both are diverse communities. Delaware County is larger and has higher percentages of immigrants and vulnerable seniors. I’m in the process of delving deeply to see where we can move the needle in those vulnerable communities.

MLT: Crozer and Brandywine once had low-income patient populations without health insurance. Did you see changes resulting from people having access to health insurance through the Affordable Care Act?

FS: Tens of thousands of people got health insurance. One of the most dramatic things was in the bottom lines of hospitals who served low and middle-low people. Crozer was really struggling before expansion of Medicaid. ChesPenn Health Services saw its bottom line improve dramatically because of Medicaid expansion. Health institutions that can manage their bottom lines can better serve the public. So many people getting insurance the past few years really made a difference. We don’t yet know what the ACA’s replacement will look like. I reserve judgment on that.