The Benton Franklin Community Health Alliance (BFCHA) began in 1993 as a task force of community leaders from Benton and Franklin Counties who determined that the community needed a cancer treatment facility, but that funding needs were too large for any one hospital to absorb alone. The project brought the three hospitals–Kadlec Regional Medical Center, Lourdes Health Network, and Kennewick General Hospital (now Trios Health)–together with a coalition of community leaders to meet a serious community need. The hospitals banded together to finance and operate the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, and furthered their collaboration by supporting other healthcare initiatives.
The first Health Needs Assessment, conducted in 1995, identified the need for six working groups: child immunization, children’s dental needs, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, access for the uninsured, and tobacco use. The immunization program was so successful that the child immunization rate went from 43% to over 80% for 2 year olds. By 1997, it was clear that the task force needed an administrator to coordinate and facilitate all activities of the committees, monitor timelines and project milestones, and report to the Executive Committee.
In 2002, BFCHA incorporated the non-profit Tri-Cities Healthcare Task Force and was recognized by the IRS as a 501(3)(c) and a non-profit by the State of Washington. Around this same time, Stanford organizational scientists recognized the task force’s governance structure and business model as “Collective Impact”, to represent the work of the task force in tackling health issues, such as childhood immunizations and dental disease, while also addressing socially complex issues like access to health care, domestic violence, and reducing inappropriate emergency department use.
In 2010, Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) became a reporting requirement of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for non-profit hospitals. Meanwhile, BHCHA and the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) began the process of National Public Health accreditation, which also required a CHNA. The Health Alliance and the Health District determined that working together would be the most efficient approach.
BFCHA is fortunate to have retained some of the original leaders and institutions. From the Task Force, assembled in 1992, to the Benton Franklin Community Health Alliance of today, Bob Burden and Mike Tuohy continue to serve on the board. The original institutions of Group Health, Kadlec, Lourdes, Kennewick General Hosptial (Trios), and the Benton Franklin Health District continue to provide financial support for BFCHA. The newest partner, PMH Medical Center, joined BFCHA in 2012.