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.


Local GI Doctors Participate In Colonoscopy Performance Study

The gastroenterology specialty physicians of Galen Medical Group hosted visiting physician, Dr. Michael Wallace, professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.  Dr. Wallace updated the Galen GI physicians on their baseline performance in identifying and removing precancerous colon polyps, a quality criteria these doctors have been studying for years.    ... (click for more)

Williams Accepted Into Chattanooga's Women's Leadership Institute

Chattanooga’s Women’s Leadership Institute announced their 2014 mentees and includes Joyce Ann Williams, senior tax accountant for Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC, Top 50 Accounting Firm. Ms. Williams, received her B.S. degree in Accounting and her Masters of Accountancy from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  Prior to joining LBMC, she worked as a ... (click for more)

City, County Pull The Plug On Downtown Shooting Range

City and county officials have decided to keep the police firing range at Moccasin Bend rather than building an expensive new indoor facility at the former Farmers Market property. County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Sheriff Jim Hammond and new Police Chief Fred Fletcher met recently and decided to "pull the plug" on the project. He said officers felt that the Moccasin Bend range ... (click for more)

Reception Honors County's 2nd-Longest Serving Employee

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck, at a County Courthouse reception, asked anyone who was working at the courthouse in 1966 to raise their hand. Only Circuit Court Clerk Paula Thompson was able to do so. Judge Shattuck said he believes only Edna Camp of the Criminal Court clerk's office, has been at the courthouse longer. Ms. Thompson did not seek re-election, ... (click for more)

Vote No On Health Insurance Changes Affecting County Teachers

Our Hamilton County School Board will vote on insurance changes effecting both active employees and retirees, who are not on Medicare at this time.  HCEA strongly objects to changes being made at this time and urges a “No” vote.  Insurance had been frozen three years by negotiations.  Since the Educators Professional Negotiations Act was nullified by the 2011 Legislature, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Al Sharpton’s Wise Remarks

I’ll admit I paid little more than scant attention to the Monday funeral of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by police bullets in Ferguson, Mo., after he allegedly was involved in strong-armed robbery. There are too many tawdry details and, in my way of thinking, there is nothing under God’s sun, absolutely nothing, that gives others the right to riot, burn ... (click for more)