(NewMediaWire) – December 09, 2021 – Portland, Ore. – Regence health plans today announced a $1 million philanthropic investment to advance health equity in underserved communities across Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
This investment supports Regence’s “Four Communities” project, which aims to increase access to preventative and chronic care for people living in areas of greatest need, including: Lewiston, Idaho; Medford, Oregon; West Valley City, Utah; and South King County, Washington.
Investments will address the socioeconomic challenges that prevent people from living their healthiest lives by expanding existing community health programs with a specific emphasis on:
- increasing care access and capacity, as well as integrating behavioral health services into existing programs
- reducing barriers to optimal health by addressing social determinants of health (SDOH), including housing, food and emergency support
- and by improving capacity for more personalized and sustainable care coordination between medical providers and social services.
“We are honored to support the communities in which our members and employees live, work and play,” said Peggy Maguire, senior vice president of community and social impact at Regence. “By supporting community health workers and establishing long term partnerships with trusted organizations, we can increase access to affordable and proven systems of care that put people first and enable them to live their healthiest lives.”
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, social and economic factors shape 80% of a person’s ability to engage in healthy behaviors. As a result, populations with fewer resources and lower incomes face significant barriers to achieving optimal health and require a broad-based approach to address the social, economic and environmental factors that influence health. Partnering with local health systems, community health workers act as advocates and often share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status and life experiences with the community members they serve.
Four Communities investments will increase training and capacity for organizations so they can serve even more people, while at the same time empowering trusted on-the-ground experts who best know local community members and their unique needs.
“Regence’s investment in this work is creating a significant positive change for our community. It’s as simple as that,” said Brenda Johnson, chief executive officer of La Clinica, a recipient organization. “Our staff sees people in need every day, and with this funding we’ll be able to address community needs for connection and resources like never before. We’re so grateful.”
This strategic investment will support the following organizations:
CHAS Health/Lewis and Clark Health Center will receive $100,000 to conduct a behavioral health needs assessment and develop a comprehensive, community-supported action plan to help break the stigma around mental health challenges through a collaborative and equitable approach.
La Clinica will receive a $300,000 grant to expand the community health worker team and increase field-based services that help people meet basic needs around housing, food, utilities and behavioral health support. Outreach will benefit BIPOC, Spanish-speaking, immigrant and refugee, and LGBTQIA+ communities, as well as people experiencing houselessness. The award will also support two community partners – ACCESS and Rogue Retreat – which will each receive $25,000 to improve the referral process for La Clinica patients to essential food, shelter, medical and case management services.
Association for Utah Community Health will receive $50,000 to support its AmeriCorps program training members to serve as Community Health Workers. This team will offer care coordination services that address chronic conditions and SDOH for high-risk populations across Utah.
Comunidades Unidas (CU) / Communities United will receive $150,000 to support its Family Emergency Fund – a cash assistance program for Utahns who need financial support due to COVID-19 and are ineligible for federal stimulus aid. Funding will also support farmers markets to help address the lack of culturally competent food in targeted Latinx and immigrant communities.
HealthierHere, in partnership with Global to Local and the YMCA of Greater Seattle, will receive grants totaling $400,000 to strengthen culturally and linguistically appropriate care coordination across clinical and community organizations. As part of the Connect2 Community Network, these investments will provide critical support to community health workers in South King County and build a lasting foundation for relationship-based and technology-enabled care coordination.
Regence serves approximately 3.4 million people through its health plans in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Each Regence health plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.com.