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.


Study Shows Number of Metastatic Prostate Cancer Cases Increasing

Results of a study from Northwestern University  shows the number of new cases of metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that spreads to other parts of the body) increased 72 percent between 2004 and 2013.  Doctors at CHI Memorial are seeing the same trend with the number of metastatic prostate cancer increasing.   In 2008, the U.S. Preventive Services Task ... (click for more)

Erlanger Welcomes 3 New Orthopaedic Surgeons

Erlanger Health System announces three new orthopaedic surgeons to its network of physicians serving the greater Chattanooga area: Drs. Daniel Doty, Kristopher Case Sanders, and Robert S. Quigley.  “We are excited about the experience and passion Drs. Doty, Sanders and Quigley will bring to Erlanger,” said Kevin Spiegel, president and CEO of Erlanger Health System. “The ... (click for more)

Boyd Questions Effectiveness Of Read 20 Program; Coppinger Defends It

County Commissioner Tim Boyd said he questions the effectiveness of the Read 20 pre-K literacy program and wants the director to come before the County Commission to answer questions.   County Mayor Jim Coppinger defended the program, noting that it was the creation of former County Mayor Claude Ramsey.   Commissioner Boyd said the low literacy level hearing ... (click for more)

Corker Says Without Budget Reform, Washington Is “Laying A Huge Burden On Future Generations”

In remarks on the Senate floor  on Wednesday , Senator Bob Corker joined a number of colleagues to discuss the broken federal budget process.   “The processes that we have in place make it impossible for us to really deal with our country’s fiscal issues,” said Senator Corker. “Today is the perfect example of that: we pass a continuing resolution ... (click for more)

Jimmy Templeton Will Be Missed At The City Yards

If only we had known about the Chattanooga City Council's planned retirement send off for Jimmy Templeton of Public Works, the room would have been filled to overflowing with his friends and admirers - including me.   I have had the honor of knowing and working with Jimmy since the 1970's (and also knew his father "Big Jim").  Jimmy was a strong right hand for whoever ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Knobfather & Me

I’ve seen some beautiful things in my life. I’ve eaten dinner inside the Eiffel Tower with the city of Paris all aglitter below. I’ve been sprayed by champagne in the Dallas Cowboys’ dressing room after they won the Super Bowl. I’ve stood both at the top and at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I’ve snorkeled in the Great Exuma islands, learned to snow ski in the Austrian Alps, and ... (click for more)