Palmetto Health in Columbia, S.C., will receive the 2014 Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service for its broad-based efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of its community, the award’s sponsors announced last week. 

The Baxter International Foundation, the AHA and its affiliated Health Research & Educational Trust sponsor the annual $100,000 prize, one of the most esteemed community service honors in health care. Palmetto Health will receive the award during the 2015 AHA Annual Membership Meeting, which will take place May 3-6 in Washington, D.C.

Created in 1998 through the merger of two of the area's major hospital systems, Palmetto Health contributes 10% of its bottom line to programs and services for indigent, uninsured and underserved populations in its service area. After 16 years, the organization has funded $42 million for these community programs, expanding access to care and eliminating serious drastic disparities in care, the award’s sponsors noted.

Named as finalists and receiving $10,000 each are: Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI; White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles; and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“The Foster G. McGaw Prize recognizes health care organizations that serve as role models for improving the health and well-being of the people in their communities,” said John O’Brien, the prize committee’s chairman. “This year’s winner and finalists exemplify what it takes to meet the unique needs of their communities. Through leadership and collaboration with community partners, they enhance the lives of their vulnerable populations and all those they serve.”