Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) is the business name of Valley Hospital Association, a public charity that shares ownership in Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and invests its share of the profits back into the community to improve population health. The Mat-Su Health Foundation board of directors seats half the governing board of the hospital and ensures that it meets the community’s growing health care needs. At the apex of health improvement, the foundation deploys data analysis and community engagement to achieve the Triple Aim in Mat-Su through the intersection of its philanthropy and hospital ownership.
The foundation serves the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough in Southcentral Alaska, encompassing more than 25,000 square miles and 27 individual communities ranging from off-road and very rural to suburban bedroom communities of Anchorage. Its mission is to improve the health and wellness of Alaskans living in the Mat-Su.
Program Information: MSHF concentrates on making systems improvements, filling service gaps, and improving care coordination in three focus areas: Healthy Minds, Healthy Aging, and Healthy Foundations for Families. MSHF also supports other health-related initiatives and offers scholarships to build the health care workforce of tomorrow. MSHF commissions research, supports health-related coalitions, invests in capacity-building, and advocates for regulatory and policy changes to help measurably improve the health of Mat-Su residents. Data analysis and community engagement include triennial Community Health Needs Assessments; a three-part Behavioral Health Environmental Scan (BHES) analyzing the region’s crisis response system, continuum of behavioral health care, and prevention network; and Senior Scans assessing the ability of the infrastructure and long term services and support system to meet the needs of the fastest growing senior population in the state.
Total Assets: $139.5 million FY15
Amount Dedicated to Health-Related Grants: $5,333 million FY15
- Special Initiatives and/or Representative Health and Human Services Grants Improving Access to Behavioral Health—MSHF works with community-based behavioral health providers, the Alaska State Division of Behavioral Health, and other partners and funders to implement the BHES recommendations, such as the formation of a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Over 130 first responders were trained in Mental Health First Aid and a select group of troopers and officers staff the CIT, which helps officers de-escalate situations with individuals experiencing behavioral health crises. ($70,000)In addition, MSHF is working with its corporate partner to develop a suite of behavioral health services at Mat-Su Regional, including a psychiatric emergency department and a behavioral health hospital.
Filling System Gaps—MSHF issued a Discovery Grant RFP to address critical gaps identified in the behavioral health continuum of care. Awardees included Ptarmigan Pediatrics for a psychologist internship program in local schools, Co-Occurring Disorders Institute for a therapist to work with ages 0-3, and Set Free Alaska for children’s behavioral health early intervention and treatment. ($331,000)
Keeping Children Well-Cared for and Safe—MSHF serves as the “backbone” for R.O.C.K. Mat-Su (Raising Our Children with Kindness). R.O.C.K. uses the collective impact framework to engage over 30 organizations to promote family resilience and reduce child maltreatment. R.O.C.K builds social supports, eliminates silos, and influences systems that affect kids and families throughout the borough. Current initiatives include contracting with the National Council for Behavioral Health to pilot trauma-informed social service organizations and schools, collaborating with the Palmer Superior Court to launch a therapeutic court for families with children three and under facing out-of-home placement, and working with the Office of Children’s services to improve the frequency and consistency of family contact.
Role of Philanthropy in Meeting Pressing Needs
“At MSHF, we believe that we must go beyond the personal responsibility ethic to understand and influence how systems and policies affect the health of Mat-Su residents and even select demographics within Mat-Su. We must honor and build upon the plentiful assets and strengths of our citizens as we increase whole person health and resilient families and communities.”
Elizabeth Ripley, Chief Executive Officer