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angle-left Excellus BlueCross BlueShield selects 12 upstate New York nonprofit organizations to receive Community Health Awards

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield selects 12 upstate New York nonprofit organizations to receive Community Health Awards

For Immediate Release:  2017-12-15

Contact:  Edward Byrnes, Excellus BCBS, (315) 792-8897

Twelve nonprofit organizations in the Utica/Rome/North Country region have been chosen from among more than 40 applications to receive Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Fall 2017 Community Health Awards. Each award recipient will receive up to $4,000 of the $36,000 allocated by the company to help fund health and wellness programs in its 14-county Utica/Rome/North Country region.

Through a competitive application process, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Awards support programs that have clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population.

Awards focus on improving the health status of the community, reducing the incidence of specific diseases, promoting health education and enhancing overall wellness and are made based on scope of need, goals of the program, number of people expected to benefit from the program and positive impact on the community’s health status.

The 12 nonprofit organizations that were selected to receive Community Health Awards are:

  • Clinton County Health Department (Plattsburgh) Clinton County Sun Safety Initiative – For the purchase of sunscreen dispensers to be placed at 10 locations throughout Clinton County.
  • The Kelberman Center (Utica) Off the Couch & Outside the Box Wellness Series, designed to get kids and young adults with autism “off the couch” and thinking “outside the box” about physical activity and nutrition. The year-long series will include four physical and social activities, one healthy cooking class, and one wellness class, all moderated by Kelberman Center staff experienced in supporting social skills development.
  • Utica Zoological Society (Utica) Utica Zoo Snowshoe Program - Snowshoe replacement and repair for the Utica Zoo snowshoe program.
  • St. Lawrence County Health Initiative, Inc. (Potsdam) Bridge to Wellness Medication Disposal Program - Installation of two additional prescription medication dropboxes in St. Lawrence County pharmacies or hospitals, plus community education on their use.
  • Central Association for the Blind, Inc. (Utica) Camp Abilities in Motion works individually with children who experience vision loss, 10 years of age and under, to help them understand proper body mechanics and to reinforce physical skills. In order to provide opportunities for repetition, newly acquired movements will be incorporated into fun games and activities. Educational sessions will incorporate the use of family fitness kits (that they can keep) containing a variety of sports equipment and instructional materials to continue motor development beyond the sessions.
  • Rescue Mission of Utica, Inc. (Utica) Addictions Stabilization Center program - Support for the Center’s program with the purchase of a CARESCAPE V100-4 Patient Monitor – BP Temp & Pulse OX; CARESCAPE Rolling Stand and Ivac/Alaris Oral Probe Covers for CARESCAPE Monitors will be used by every resident in the ASC Program.
  • Disabled Persons Action Organization (Watertown) Handi-Capable Wellness Program - This program targets disabled individuals that, because of lack of physical activity, are at risk of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, fatigue, and depression. The program will focus on organized activities that will utilize the local YMCA and the local areas fitness professionals within the community.
  • Pathfinder Village Foundation (Edmeston) - The award will be used to help fund annual memberships at the Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown; these memberships allow Village residents and students with developmental disabilities to use the Sports Center’s extensive facilities on a regular basis.
  • Hospice Foundation of Jefferson County (Watertown) Five Wishes Initiative - Hospice of Jefferson County will use the Five Wishes in community education and outreach efforts and increase the number of people in Jefferson County that have an Advance Directive. Hospice will educate physicians on how to use the Five Wishes in their practice to help talk to their patients about Advance Care Planning.
  • Humane Society of Rome, Inc. (Rome) Pet Therapy - Providing pet therapy for the community and local nursing homes on a monthly basis. Pet therapy is a guided interaction between a person and a shelter animal with the goal of improving a resident’s social, emotional and cognitive functioning. Interacting with a pet can help many physical and mental issues. It can help reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. It can also release endorphins that produce a calming effect. This can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve one’s overall psychological state.
  • The House of the Good Shepherd (Utica) Yoga and Exercise Classes for Children - Providing yoga and meditation classes, and Zumba and Pound aerobic classes to the children at The House of the Good Shepherd. Licensed instructors will work in conjunction with the nursing and recreation staff to coordinate and begin classes in January of 2018.
  • Family Counseling Service of Northern New York, Inc. (Watertown) Integration Between Primary Care and Behavioral Health using a Strength-Based Approach - Implementing an evidence-based behavioral health program for children, with a strong focus on communication between the behavioral health provider and the primary care provider.

“The company’s Community Health Awards demonstrate a corporate commitment to support local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Eve VandeWal, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “These awards complement our existing grants and sponsorships with agencies that work to enhance quality of life, including health status, in upstate New York.”

In the 80 years that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has been serving residents of upstate New York, the company has supported hundreds of programs that are aimed at improving the health status of area residents.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Utica/Rome/North Country region encompasses Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and St. Lawrence counties.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit