In 70 years of service as the state’s leading health insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has always given back to the communities that have placed their trust in the company’s products and people.
In 2014, BlueCross invested more than $14 million in community outreach efforts with more than 270 organizations.
The goal: To make life a little better for people in every county in Tennessee.
“We are committed to the community because it’s in our makeup to give back to our fellow Tennesseans,” says Calvin Anderson, senior vice president of corporate affairs.
“And it’s another way we can fulfill our mission to provide Peace of Mind Through Better Health.”
There is a strategy behind the company’s charitable efforts, one that addresses some of the most pressing health issues Tennessee faces.
It’s built on three main focus areas:
Physical activity is one of the most important keys to maintaining good health and preventing disease.
A national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that many Tennesseans do not get a healthy level of physical activity.
In fact, nearly a third of people surveyed reported no physical activity at all the previous month.
“BlueCross seeks to be the leader in promoting and expanding physical activity across the state, particularly for the youth population,” Anderson says.
The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation launched its Shape the State program in 2011 and in that time has:
- Provided physical education curriculum and equipment to 100 middle schools
- Worked with national nonprofit KaBOOM! to build playgrounds in six underserved neighborhoods across the state, with five more planned
- Given every public elementary school teacher in Tennessee access to the in-classroom physical activity tool GoNoodle at no cost to local school systems
- Worked with Memphis leaders to turn RiverFit, a temporary pop-up fitness area in Tom Lee Park, into a permanent fixture along the Mississippi River
- Collaborated with the Trust for Public Land to create outdoor fitness centers at public parks and community centers
The BlueCross mission includes providing access to quality, affordable care — even for Tennesseans who aren’t customers.
Tennessee is fortunate to have a number of clinics across the state dedicated to providing care to the uninsured, giving access to thousands who could not otherwise afford it. The BlueCross Health Foundation has supported these clinics both financially and by helping them work collaboratively.
The Foundation is also one of the largest supporters of Healthier Tennessee, a project of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness. Healthier Tennessee is helping people make incremental progress in improving their health through a program called Small Starts, which leads participants through a series of attainable goals related to activity, nutrition and tobacco use cessation.
Additionally, the Foundation is increasing access to quality care by investing in the training of medical students and professionals through the use of simulators. Nursing students at Tusculum College, medical students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and rural health professionals in West Tennessee are all receiving training using electronic simulators as stand-in “patients.”
“A goal of BlueCross is to expand the availability of services and health information across the state,” Anderson says.
Babies born dependent on the drugs their mothers have abused during pregnancy is an epidemic in East Tennessee.
In some communities half of newborns suffer the painful drug withdrawal symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Infants suffering from NAS cry constantly from pain. They tremble, experience extreme sensitivity to light, and have diarrhea.
The BlueCross Health Foundation is working to combat this epidemic in several ways:
- Provided funding to bring the Mothers and Infants Sober Together program to Jellico, Tennessee, which is helping move mothers past addiction so they can care for their children
- Contributed $1 million for construction of a new NAS unit at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, a leading treatment facility
- Funded a study by University of Tennessee Medical Center researchers that could lead to greater prevention of NAS
“We are working with community and regional partners to mitigate the availability and inappropriate use of prescription drugs and controlled substances that could be harmful to newborns,” says Dawn Abel, director of community relations and foundations for BlueCross.