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.


Dr. T. Darrell Weldon To Head Hutcheson Hospital Board

Hutcheson Medical Center, Inc. announced Thursday that Dr. T. Darrell Weldon has been appointed as chairman of the board for Hutcheson Medical Center, Inc.   Dr. Weldon will also serve as chairman of Hutcheson Health Enterprises, Inc. and will continue his duties as chairman of The Hospital Authority of Walker, Dade and Catoosa Counties.   Other board appointments ... (click for more)

Alexander, Burr Release “Innovation For Healthier Americans” Report

Senators Lamar Alexander and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Thursday released a report on the challenges to getting safe treatments, devices and cures to patients more quickly and effectively, examining what is working, and what isn’t, at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. The senators are soliciting feedback on their report as Chairman Alexander ... (click for more)

Appeals Court Rules Against WWTA In Lawsuit Brought By Apartment Complex Over $8 Monthly Charges To Units

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an apartment complex that sued the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Authority (WWTA) over an $8 monthly charge per apartment unit for preparing private service laterals. The court overturned a granting of summary judgment in favor of WWTA by former Judge Jackie Bolton. The appeals court said American Heritage Apartments, ... (click for more)

1 Dies In House Fire In Rhea County

Rhea County Fire Department officials said one person died in an early-morning house fire on Saturday. The call came at about 6:30 a.m. The brick residence is on Fisher Road. S tate arson investigators were on their way. (click for more)

It's Time To Insure Tennessee - And Response

Tennessee has a problem.  What is the value of saving the lives of 1,000 Tennesseans each year? That is exactly what can be expected if 176,000 Tennesseans gain health insurance through Insure Tennessee. A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that expansion of Medicaid was associated with a 6% reduction in yearly mortality for people in the 34-65 age group. Statistically, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Boots, Idiots & Guns

As the month of February was born this morning, allow me to hurriedly share three leftovers that were still in last month’s basket: * * * A first-grade teacher had endured a long day and was helping her students bundle up for the trip home when one of the little boys asked for help getting on his boots. Soon she could see why. Even with her pulling, and him pushing, the ... (click for more)