BlueCare, Religious Leaders Team To Tackle Health Care Disparities

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases publishes annual immunization rates for children between the ages of 19 and 35 months. Only 21% of African-American children and only 11% of Hispanic children in Tennessee received their recommended immunizations last year.

That is why BlueCare Tennessee has set a goal of partnering with more than 1,000 faith-based institutions to reduce racial, ethnic and other health disparities throughout Tennessee with its “Lifting Our Members” health information toolkit. With the campaign in its third week, BlueCare has already partnered with more than 200 houses of worship.

“The faith leader’s voice can be powerful in promoting good health," said Rafielle Freeman, director of quality improvement for BlueCare. “Just as they encourage and lift their members’ spiritually, they can help us take those health disparity populations to higher levels of understanding about their role in better health.”

Examples of health care disparities include:

  • African-American women are 34 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. 
  • 64,431 of BlueCare members in Shelby County did not obtain appropriate preventative care screenings.
  • 74 percent of non-Hispanic whites received flu shots during the 2009-2010 flu season, while only 61 percent of Hispanics and 58 percent of non-Hispanic blacks were immunized. 

In 2013, BlueCare Tennessee formed a statewide Disparities Advisory Panel made up of local leaders across Tennessee who were already working to eliminate disparities in their own communities.  Based upon the recommendation of this panel, BlueCare developed a faith-based toolkit to assist leaders of worship in addressing the health care disparities faced by their own congregations.

The “Lifting Our Members” toolkit includes a health care calendar, which focuses on important health issues each month, and a preventive health guide with flyers and information relevant to various health concerns faced by different population groups. The first phase of the initiative will target childhood immunizations among African-American, Hispanic, and rural white Tennesseans.

To help distribute and train religious leaders in how to use the toolkits, more than 100 employee volunteers from BlueCare and its parent company, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, will hold training sessions onsite at various religious organizations throughout the state.

For more information about the “Lifting Our Members” toolkit initiative, and for the toolkit itself, visit bluecare.bcbst.com and search for faith-based toolkit.


Debra Chew: Women And Balancing The “Change Of Life”

My favorite act at the circus is the balancing act.  You know, the guy walking the tightrope, balancing each step he takes so that he doesn’t lose his equilibrium and come crashing down.  Sometimes life can make women feel like they are walking a tightrope and that the least change will take them off balance and they will come crashing down. Unfortunately, women walk ... (click for more)

Erlanger Opens Sixth Emergency Department To Serve Sequatchie Valley

Residents of the Sequatchie Valley are invited to tour the area’s only 24/7 emergency center during Open House festivities for the new Sequatchie Valley Emergency Department on Sunday from 2 - 4 p.m. (CDT), at 16931 Rankin Avenue in Dunlap, Tn. To celebrate the grand opening of the new emergency center, officials with Erlanger Health System will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)