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North Hills Monthly

St. Barnabas Charities’ Free Care Fund Provides Care to Residents in Need

Jan 01, 2017 02:24PM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch

The cost of senior care can stretch family budgets to the breaking point, and while financial help is available through government programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs, these programs only pay a portion of the cost.

According to, only 10 percent of people in the U.S. have a long-term care plan in place. This lack of planning is extremely worrisome because nearly 70 percent of people will need long-term care at some point. With the cost of such services rising an average of 20 percent every five years, low long-term care insurance coverage and few formal plans in existence, St. Barnabas Charities’ Free Care Fund is a relief to the many patients that have been have helped since the health system’s founding. 

“For more than a century, St. Barnabas Health System has had one simple mission: to help retirees live comfortably at a price they can afford,” said St. Barnabas Health System Marketing Director Jim Lauteri, adding that more than $135 million has been raised toward that goal since 1967. “These charitable contributions have been a critical cornerstone in our mission of providing comprehensive, compassionate care to thousands of residents regardless of their ability to pay.”

The St. Barnabas Free Care Fund provides more than $7 million a year to patients at St. Barnabas Nursing Home, Valencia Woods at St. Barnabas, and The Arbors in Gibsonia, Valencia and Beaver, that cannot afford their care. 

“Our patients and residents often live here for a long time and as they age, their situations can change. This can drain a savings account very quickly and some will run out of money,” said Lauteri. “The Free Care Fund steps in to help because we never want a patient to worry that they will be pushed out at a serious time in their lives.” 

There are several ways that the money is raised for the Free Care Fund. “We have private and corporate donations, and an employee-exclusive giving program where our employees have the opportunity to dedicate a portion of their earnings to help support the work that we do,” said Lauteri. “We also host several different events throughout the year including a Founder’s Day celebration in April, the Free Care 5K in August, the St. Barnabas Golf Opens in June and October, and Lights of Life around the holiday season.” 

In addition to the events, St. Barnabas also raises money through innovative channels such as the Kean Theatre, where theatrical performances, live music, and even recognition dinners and business meetings can be held.

Another avenue for fundraising is St. Barnabas’ specialty thrift boutique store, Beautiful Buys, which features low prices on gently used housewares, furniture, clothing and more. “The inventory is ever changing and is made up of generous donations from the surrounding communities,” Lauteri said. 

Other creative sources for funding come from other avenues. The campus’s Crystal Conservatories is a beautiful indoor oasis available to rent for anniversary parties, rehearsal dinners and other special occasions that allows guests full access to the heated indoor pool and facilities. All net proceeds from Rudolph Auto Repair garage and gas station, located at the corner of Route 910 and Hardt Road, go to the Free Care Fund. Finally, Conley Resort and Suncrest Golf Course, both acquired in 2015 by St. Barnabas Charities, have provided additional revenue for the charity.

“With the cuts in government grants and funding, it’s amazing to see how our community has stepped up through philanthropy,” said Lauteri. “We’re extremely grateful and humbled by their support.”

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