At The Intersection of Impact Investing and Health Systems

Ed Gerardo is a is a Social Impact Consultant, former Director with Bon Secours Health System focused on Community Commitment and Social Investments and contributor to the Virginia Impact Report, Vol. 1.

Ed’s article, A Faith Based Health System Leverages Impact Investing for Mission (see link below), reviews the practices that Bon Secours Health System put in place to invest in the health of their local communities. After reading Ed’s article, which is worth reading whether you represent a health system or not, I (Matt Illian) asked Ed some follow up questions shared below.

Ed .png

Edward Gerardo offers important insights

into a future where health systems use every resource available to achieve the health and wellness of their communities

Matt: In your article, you lay out some practical examples for how your institution, Bon Secours Health System (now Bon Secours Mercy Health), approaches mission investing.  Why aren't we seeing more hospital systems following this path?

Ed: There are probably a variety of reasons and I would be speculating more than providing a knowledge based answer. On the whole I think it is important and helpful if a health system has an investment policy that is more extensive than financial criteria.  Health systems that are engaged with impact investing do so because they have thought through philosophically what their role is vis-à-vis their communities and view all their assets as means to improving the health of their communities.  So the first step is to have the conversations that lead to more comprehensive investment policies and utilization of investable assets in achieving one's mission.

Matt: What advice do you have for hospital system administrators who, after reading your article, want to learn more about how they can explore these topics further?

Ed: I suggest in-service education session for their financial and executive leadership in concert with the board investment committee. There are a myriad of resources from university faculty, CDFI organizations that likely serve their communities, or foundation leaders in their areas who are engaged in impact investing.  Board members are likely to know of parties to provide education in-service and an introduction to the subject as well as some direction on how to get started.

Matt: Talk to me about the impact of impact investing.  How do you see our society benefiting from the growth of this practice?  

Ed: The growth of impact investing is clearly bringing more financial resources and capacity to vulnerable communities for economic development, creation of affordable housing, transformation of environment, and education opportunities for those who have had limited access.  This is a fantastic contribution on the one hand but needs to be combined with evidence based or demonstrably effective initiatives so that the funds leveraged accomplish what is necessary and expected.  In some ways, we don't lack for capital but need more beneficial outcomes from fund deployment.

or, to view the entire report, click below

Image: In Richmond, Bon Secours converted a closed and unsightly auto repair shop into the Sarah Garland Jones Center (see additional photos in Ed’s article), a multi-purpose community gathering site. The inviting Center serves as a catalyst for reinvestment in the community and provides a small business incubator kitchen, café, and community room for meetings. Neighborhood young adults who aspire to be restaurant entrepreneurs hone their culinary and business skills in the kitchen and operate the café.