[On Monday], CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), a not-for-profit and the largest healthcare company in the mid-Atlantic region, announced an additional $2.2 million in grants supporting COVID-19 relief, recovery and equitable vaccination efforts for communities in the region. Overall, the company has contributed $8 million since 2020 to organizations on the front lines of the pandemic. The investments support nonprofits addressing communities’ health, social and economic needs and creating equitable COVID-19 support for people and neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
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“Throughout the pandemic, our mission has remained the same – to create better health outcomes for all while increasing the accessibility, affordability and quality of care,” said Brian D. Pieninck, President and CEO of CareFirst. “With the recent significant upticks in COVID-19 cases across the United States and in our region, these grants will help support a diverse group of strong, local community organizations working hard to ensure individual and community health needs and equitable vaccine distribution continue to be met throughout this public health crisis.”
Areas of focus for funding include efforts to address vaccination education and distribution, expand access to behavioral healthcare services, increase access to education, skills and training to minimize learning loss for school aged children, and support workforce development by providing job training. Special consideration was given to Black, youth, Veteran and women-led organizations. To date, CareFirst’s contributions in pandemic relief grants have benefitted approximately 700,000 individuals across the Mid-Atlantic region through 150 organizations.
Earlier this year, CareFirst made substantial contributions to community vaccination education and distribution efforts. CareFirst’s Better Together Campaign and Vaccine Pledge have represented core elements of the company’s $8 million COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. As part of this initiative to educate and encourage people in the region about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible and able, CareFirst has released a total of $1.2 million to three community organizations, CASA de Maryland, United Way of the National Capital Area and West Virginia Health Right, to assist their work addressing equitable vaccine distribution in underserved communities. With CareFirst funding, these three organizations will serve nearly 20,000 individuals across our region through COVID-19 education and vaccination events. In total, 760 organizations and 4,221 CareFirst associates took the pledge.
As part of the Better Together Campaign, CareFirst invested $200k in 8 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) located in Washington, D.C. to support equitable access to vaccines for nearly 80,000 individuals and communities disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 relief funding to FQHC’s supported staffing of vaccine administration, personal protective equipment, refrigeration units for vaccine storage and other unanticipated vaccination demands. The centers are a critical component of combating COVID-19 in underserved and uninsured populations in Washington, D.C. more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 due to a variety of circumstances such as housing instability or type of employment.
In addition to the $8 million in grant funding, CareFirst leveraged associate volunteer hours and vendor relationships to further support communities hardest hit by COVID-19 by:
- Donating nearly 84,000 meals and groceries in partnership with Aramark to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity.
- Training over 125 associates to stand ready to respond to public health needs in our community through the Maryland Medical Reserve Corps with 188 volunteer hours served to date; and,
- Engaging over 5,000 individuals to provide communities most impacted by COVID-19 with a series of virtual townhalls in collaboration with nonprofit community partners, providing accurate information from trusted leaders to drive increased vaccination rates.
“Community health organizations have been the backbone of ensuring equitable vaccine access and healthcare to underserved communities during the pandemic,” said Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact for CareFirst. “By partnering with these great organizations, we can address social determinants of health that may impact individual susceptibility to COVID-19, such as chronic conditions, housing instability or learning environments. Preventative care in addition to vaccinations will help us lower the COVID-19 infection rate and help put an end to the pandemic.”
CareFirst will continue to work with jurisdictions, public health authorities and community organizations and leaders to provide support, identify and eliminate barriers and offer meaningful resources to address coronavirus care and equitable vaccine distribution for our members, employees and the communities we serve. Visit CareFirst’s COVID Resource Center, social media channels and website to remain updated on the latest company news and activities.
This press release was provided by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.