School of Nursing


Ranked Number 1 in Pennsylvania for Charitable Giving
March 27, 2024

St. Luke's community outreach and charitable initiatives to community health earned the Network the No. 1 health system in Pennsylvania for the third year in a row by the independent think tank and nationally recognized Lown Institue. No other health care system in the state had a greater "fair share" surplus.

St. Luke’s University Health Network has been identified by the Lown Institute for the third year in a row as the No. 1 health system in Pennsylvania for charitable giving.

St. Luke’s is the only health system in the Lehigh Valley with a “fair share” surplus, meaning it spends more on charity and community investment than it receives in tax breaks, according to Lown.

No hospital in Pennsylvania had a greater surplus than St. Luke’s University Hospital, comprising both the Bethlehem Campus in Fountain Hill and the Allentown Campus. Three additional St. Luke’s hospitals –  Easton, Miners and Upper Bucks campuses – were among the 14 hospitals in the state with a surplus.

“This report’s findings confirm St. Luke’s longstanding commitment to the communities we serve,” said St. Luke’s University Hospital President Wendy Lazo. “At St. Luke’s, our culture and values have resulted in meaningful investments and sustained engagement in our communities, from downtown neighborhoods to rural enclaves – which is why St. Luke’s has been widely recognized nationally, regionally and locally for our service and dedication.”

See the Lown Institute’s full report:

The Lown Institute calculated fair share spending based on 2021 IRS Form 990. Fair share deficits and surpluses for each system were calculated by balancing the estimated value of hospital systems’ tax exemptions against the amount systems spent on charity care and community investment— including community health improvement activities, contributions to community groups, community building activities and subsidized healthcare services.

St. Luke’s fair share surplus stands in stark contrast to the fair share deficits of the vast majority of other health care systems locally and across the country.

According to Lown research, St. Luke’s University Hospital (Bethlehem and Allentown campuses) spent $8.8 million more on charity care and community investments than the estimated value of its tax exemption. The other three St. Luke’s hospitals’ surpluses totaled nearly $10 million:

  • Easton ($4.6 million)
  • Miners Campus ($2.7 million)
  • Upper Bucks Campus ($2.5 million)

Massachusetts-based Lown analyzed 2,425  nonprofit hospitals and found only one-fifth to have a fair share surplus. The other 80% spent less on charity care and community investment and thus had a fair share deficit. The combined fair share deficit for all hospitals studied is $25.7 billion for 2021, according to Lown, which is enough to erase 29% of the United States’ medical debt.

Vikas Saini, M.D., president of the Lown Institute, said, “Everyone wants to see their local hospital thrive, but not at the expense of the communities they serve.”

St. Luke’s fair share surplus

Under the leadership of President & CEO, Rick Anderson, St. Luke’s established the Network’s Community Health Department more than 25 years ago. Since then, the department has forged long-term meaningful partnerships with community-based organizations, government and business partners.

Throughout St. Luke’s service area across 11 counties in two states, an array of other outreach projects is making a difference in people’s lives. Some examples:

  • St. Luke’s provides free lunches through its Summer Meals Program in Allentown and Quakertown, making sure no child goes without nutritious meals during the summer months.
  • St. Luke’s and the Panther Valley School District partnered to begin holding a monthly food pantry to address food insecurity among families in the district. The food pantry provides eligible families with a consistent supply of nutritious perishable and non-perishable foods and beverages.
  • St. Luke’s operates the area’s most advanced medical detox unit at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart in Allentown. In collaboration with Lehigh County and Treatment Trends, St. Luke’s played a role in establishing The Allentown Center for Recovery not far from Lehigh County Prison and the hospital last Spring. This new facility, in conjunction with the hospital’s services, allows St. Luke’s to establish comprehensive care for those seeking help.
  • Across the street from the Sacred Heart Campus is the Sigal Center, a Star Community Health facility founded by and affiliated with St. Luke’s. The Sigal Center offers free and sliding-scale medical and dental care, mainly treating uninsured and poorly insured individuals. In partnership with St. Luke’s and many generous donors, a dental clinic was expanded to accommodate nearly twice as many patients as previously possible. Meanwhile, Star Community Health mobile dental vans and St. Luke’s medical vans deliver essential dental and primary care to school children who lack these basic yet vital services.
  • In Allentown and Bethlehem, St. Luke’s Parish Nurse Program focuses on homeless and near-homeless populations, offering routine medical care, food and clothing. During the COVID epidemic, the Parish Nurses arranged for homeless people to quarantine comfortably in a local motel after testing positive for the virus.
  • The Parish Nurses and the Laundromat Ministries collaborate to staff a bi-weekly free laundry night. The teams distribute meals while providing medical care such as checkups for acute and chronic conditions, using the mobile vans. St. Luke’s medical students, many of whom attend the Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine tuition-free in exchange for committing to practice medicine in the Lehigh Valley after graduation, volunteer with this initiative to experientially learn about their community.