A proposal to settle the dispute between Greenville Health System and some Greenville County political leaders calls for increasing the amount of money the hospital is spending on community health programs by $20 million.
GHS is already spending $80 million through its Healthy Greenville 2036 initiative to fund $4 million in annual grants over 20 years.
The initiative was established last year as a way to repay $82 million in county tax funds GHS got decades ago to build parts of Greenville Memorial, Hillcrest Memorial, North Greenville Hospital and Allen Bennett Memorial.
At the time, some legislators and County Council members said GHS should let the county decide how to spend the money, and that $80 million would be worth several hundred million today.
The additional $20 million was included in an amendment introduced Thursday by state Sen. William Timmons.
It would end the idea floated in the original bill to sell GHS and disperse the proceeds among a variety of groups in exchange for approval of a master lease agreement for the hospital restructuring, the extra $20 million and reporting to the Greenville County Council, among other measures.
Timmons and seven other legislators from the Greenville County delegation said they introduced the original bill because public trust was shaken when GHS “unilaterally restructured and leased our publicly-owned, multibillion dollar asset without the legislative delegation’s input or consent as the law requires.”
GHS went from a public nonprofit to a private, nonprofit multiregional health system in 2015. But the plan was opposed by the legislators, who said it would end government oversight of public assets.
The extra $20 million would be spent over 25 years and at least a quarter of it would go to socio-economically disadvantaged or minority communities, according to the amendment, which got tentative approval from the Senate but still needs a full vote later this month.
Timmons, a Greenville Republican, said he introduced the amendment because "a resolution that everyone dislikes equally is the best path forward," adding that it would end the controversy.
After launching Healthy Greenville 2036 last spring, GHS announced nine winning grants last fall totaling $12.4 million to provide funding over one to five years.
The projects focus on access to health care, mental health, social determinants of health and healthy eating/exercise. They also address minority and low-income communities.
Projects funded included Gateway House, a private, nonprofit rehabilitation program which offers people with mental illness a path to independence by helping them function in the community, be successful in the workplace and live lives of purpose and dignity.
The group was awarded $250,000, which went toward its $5 million campaign to build a new 20,000-square-foot clubhouse across the street from the current location for programs that help adults with mental illness reintegrate into the community.
“We’ve reached capacity,” said C. Stuart Mauney, chair of the group's board of directors, noting the program currently serves about 100 members a day. “With the new facility, we will be able to double the number of members we can serve.”
Some $2.52 million was awarded to a coalition led by Clemson University's public health sciences department for diabetes prevention and management services in Greenville County to be offered in client homes and possibly locations like the Phillis Wheatley Association Center.
Another $3.38 million went to an initiative that serves Greenville County's highest-need children, providing students with health education, nutrition, physical activity and psychological support for abuse and neglect in West Greenville schools. Involved in the project are the United Way of Greenville County, SHARE Head Start, GHS and the Greenville County school district.
And $2.06 million was granted to a coalition led by the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation to provide scholarships to 10 medical students trained in areas such as lifestyle medicine or in addiction or substance misuse. Faces and Voices of Recovery Greenville and Greenville Technical College's Culinary Institute are also involved.
Other grant winners included Greenville County EMS to provide standardized training and equipment for first responders countywide and add automatic external defibrillators to deputy patrol cars; the Upstate Fatherhood Coalition to strengthen efforts to help noncustodial fathers; Little Steps, Greenville County First Steps and United Way of Greenville County to provide more individualized case management for young families; and the Clemson University School of Nursing and GHS to expand primary care access through 10 scholarships for nurse practitioners from diverse or underrepresented groups.
GHS said the funds for the grants will come from its $2 billion annual budget.