The Rapides Foundation is a unique organization that continues its legacy as a healthcare provider through continued ownership in Rapides Healthcare System and involvement in its success, but also as a significant grantmaker in Central Louisiana.
The Rapides Foundation stems from a legacy of healthcare and community service that spans decades, beginning in 1903 when a group of six physicians formed the 20-bed Alexandria Sanitarium at the corner of Second and Lee Street. The Louisiana Baptist Convention acquired the sanitarium in 1917 and operated it as the Baptist Hospital until 1970 when it was turned over to the community as Rapides General Hospital. From that point, the hospital flourished as Rapides Regional Medical Center and developed into one of the leading nonprofit, acute care hospitals in the state.
Changing healthcare environment
By the hospital's 90th anniversary in 1993, challenges to its long term ability to provide quality healthcare and civic involvement were recognized by the RRMC trustees. Trustees and administration were concerned with competitive market and pricing pressures in a managed care environment which had become the focus of the industry. The issues to be addressed were managing operating costs and obtaining access to capital for the technology and facilities necessary to maintain and improve the level of excellence that the medical and patient community had come to expect. Extensive research indicated that a networked alliance could offer operating efficiencies and strengthen market potential as a managed care provider.
A joint venture partnership
In September 1994 the trustees of Rapides Regional Medical Center established Rapides Healthcare System, which is a joint venture with HCA for the operation of the hospital. The $140 million in proceeds resulting from the joint venture were used to create The Rapides Foundation, what was then among the largest endowed charitable foundations in Louisiana.
In developing its grantmaking approach, the Foundation became aware of the impact of behavioral and social determinants on health status, and its Strategic Grantmaking Framework is built around the determinants that the Community Health Needs Assessments tell us are most important in the region.
The Rapides Foundation focuses its work in three strategic areas: Healthy People, to improve access to healthcare and promote healthy behaviors; Education, to increase the level of educational attainment and achievement as the primary path to improved economic, social and health status; and Healthy Communities, to improve economic opportunity and family income, and enhance civic and community opportunities for more effective leaders and organizations.
The Foundation’s current grantmaking approach allocates spending policy as follows:
39% to Healthy People
40% to Education
21% to Healthy Communities