Addressing opioid use disorder through treatment centers instead of prisons

Addressing opioid use disorder through treatment centers instead of prisons
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Local people with local solutions — that’s what we’re all about at Healthy Communities News. In this episode, our host, Hilary Russo, travels to Virginia and North Carolina to check out two communities taking creative approaches to address opioid use disorder. We’ll hear about these innovative solutions from the folks on the ground putting them into action and get a glimpse into recovery from Wanda Jenkins, who is using her experience with opioid use disorder to help others.


A helping hand from someone who’s been there: Gina’s story

In this episode’s podcast, we meet Gina Musa, who advocates passionately for community members in rural North Carolina struggling with opioid use disorder. A former sex worker, Gina draws on her own experience with addiction and recovery to connect people with much-needed resources and support. Today, she is a Linkage to Care Coordinator for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a job funded by an Aetna Foundation grant.

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CVS Health combines “Guardian Angel” and Unite Us programs to support opioid overdose victims in North Carolina

CVS Health combines “Guardian Angel” and Unite Us programs to support opioid overdose victims in North Carolina
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Collaboration with Unite Us also expanded to serve vulnerable community members in New Orleans and Tampa Bay

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 130 people die every day from opioid overdoses. For those individuals who suffer an overdose and are fortunate enough to survive, the event can serve as a turning point on the road to recovery.

To help people when they are potentially the most open to treatment, CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is enhancing the "Guardian Angel" program, which is designed to help individuals who suffer an opioid-related overdose. In North Carolina, the Guardian Angel program will now be supported by CVS Health's collaboration with Unite Us, a leading social care coordination platform. Through this combination, clinical case managers can use the Unite Us network of social services to connect individuals with non-clinical support that can aid their recovery, such as community resources to help with housing, food insecurity and financial assistance.

"The Guardian Angel program already has a high engagement rate of about 50 percent because it connects with people in a compassionate way during the time when they need it most," said Dr. Daniel Knecht, Vice President, Health Strategy and Innovation, CVS Health. "We recognize that whether a person is successfully able to fight addiction is not solely determined by the medical treatment that they receive. Through the Unite Us network of social care providers, people can more easily access support within their community and have a better chance of recovery."

Since the Guardian Angel program was launched by Aetna, a CVS Health company, in 2018, clinical case managers have connected with nearly 1,000 Aetna members who have suffered an overdose as well as their families, providing education and resources around the effectiveness of evidence-based addiction treatment. Members who have been contacted live in every part of the country and range in age from 16 to 79 years old (with an average age of 45).

The clinical case managers that participate in the Guardian Angel program will also be a part of the NCCARE360 network in North Carolina. NCCARE360 is the first statewide network that unites health care and human services organizations with a shared technology, Unite Us, that enables a coordinated, community-oriented, person-centered approach for delivering care. NCCARE360 is planned to be available statewide in North Carolina by the end of 2020.

Helping improve community health in New Orleans and Tampa Bay

In addition to integrating the Guardian Angel and Unite Us programs in North Carolina, CVS Health and Unite Us also launched programs in New Orleans and Tampa Bay, Florida to help Aetna's Medicaid and Dual Eligible (people eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare) members more easily access social services within their community. Working with Unite Us, Aetna's Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plan (DSNP) members in these communities can receive help from a wide range of services through local organizations - transportation, food assistance and meal delivery, adult day care, employment services and housing support, among others.

"Improving health starts at the community level, and most of that work needs to take place outside of a doctor's office," said Dr. Garth Graham, Vice President, Community Health & Impact, CVS Health. "Our collaboration with Unite Us allows us to support some of the most vulnerable members of the community, providing them with the local resources that they need to improve their everyday lives."

CVS Health's continued work with Unite Us is a key component of Destination: Health, a series of business programs focused on helping people improve their health outside of a clinical setting.

"We're excited and inspired by the progress and impact of the Destination Health initiative as it expands through the country," says Taylor Justice, Co-Founder and President of Unite Us. "It is encouraging to see the local community support as our teams continue to launch networks in Tampa and New Orleans to support Aetna's DSNP members, as well as combining the Guardian Angel and Unite Us programs in North Carolina."

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company in the world. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at http://www.cvshealth.com.

Media contact

Ethan Slavin
860-273-6095
SlavinE@aetna.com

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NAFC grant spotlight: Broad Street Clinic

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A photo of the exterior of the Broad Street Clinic in North Carolina.

CVS Health Foundation has partnered with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) on a multi-year program, awarding grants to increase access to care, improve health outcomes and lower overall health-care costs across the country.

Among the 2019 NAFC grant recipients is the Broad Street Clinic, a North Carolina-based clinic that was founded in 1993 by a group of local physicians and is dedicated to providing care to the uninsured and low-income members of its Morehead City community.

The Communities Served by the Broad Street Clinic

Broad Street Clinic (BSC) serves Carteret County and the surrounding areas. Currently, BSC serves 850 patients with about 3,000 visits annually for adult primary and specialty care. The majority of BSC patients are employed by the local commercial fishing, hospitality and tourism industries.

Community-Focused Chronic Disease Care

BSC provides free medical and pharmaceutical services to uninsured and underinsured, low income people with certain chronic illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disease, pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, and hepatitis C. BSC also provides gynecological and limited dental and vision services.

How the CVS Health Foundation Grant is Helping

BSC has been using the CVS Health Foundation grant to provide health coaching for diabetic patients. By learning to use the clinic’s electronic health records reporting, clinic providers have been able to target patients with diabetes and then further check A1C levels and last testing dates.

Since receiving the CVS Health Foundation grant, Broad Street Clinic has held two diabetes workshops. Participants have gotten to know one another and are sharing personal tips and tricks for managing their condition.
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These patients are encouraged to attend diabetic workshops held at the clinic to learn more about the disease and how to manage it. Clinic nurses and diabetic educators work with patients to teach them about healthy lifestyle changes and to develop their individual self-care plans.

A Group Effort to Better Manage Diabetes

Since receiving the CVS Health Foundation grant, BSC has held two diabetes workshops, with plans for more in the works. At each, participants got to know one another and share personal tips and tricks for managing their condition. They also filled out self-management goal worksheets, which they placed in self-addressed envelope to be mailed a month later so that they can check their own progress.

In addition, each participant received a pair of support stockings to help with leg and foot circulation and reduce swelling, a common symptom of diabetes. One woman, a cashier, called the clinic to report that the stockings helped her to feel more comfortable while on her feet all day.

To stay up-to-date on the latest CVS Health Social Responsibility news and content, sign up for email news alerts.

A photo of the exterior of the Broad Street Clinic in North Carolina.
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CVS Health Completes Rollout of Time Delay Safes in All of Its North Carolina Pharmacies

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New safes for controlled substances anticipated to help reduce robbery incidents

All 375 CVS Pharmacy locations in the state now using time-delay safe technology

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), announced today that it has completed the rollout of time delay safes in all of its 375 CVS Pharmacy locations in North Carolina, including pharmacies located in Target stores. The safes are anticipated to help prevent pharmacy robberies and the diversion of controlled substance narcotic medications by keeping them out of the hands of unauthorized individuals. In addition, the safes are anticipated to help CVS Pharmacy ensure the safety and well-being of its customers and employees.

CVS Pharmacy expects these time delay safes to help deter pharmacy robberies including those involving opioid medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone by electronically delaying the time it takes for pharmacy employees to be able to open the safe. CVS Pharmacy first implemented time delay safes in Indianapolis, a city experiencing at the time a high volume of pharmacy robberies, in 2015. The company saw a 70 percent decline in pharmacy robberies among the Indianapolis stores where the time delay safes had been installed.

"Pharmacy robberies are a challenging issue for every pharmacy and we are committed to doing all we can to reduce the number of incidents in our North Carolina stores," said Brian Bosnic, Division Leader for CVS. "We have seen that time delay safes, combined with other security policies and procedures in place at our stores, can greatly reduce these incidents and are pleased to roll out this enhanced security measure. These safes will help ensure that our pharmacies remain a safe environment for our patients and colleagues."

The time delay function cannot be overridden and is designed to serve as a deterrent to would-be pharmacy robbers whose goal is to enter and exit their robbery targets as quickly as possible. All CVS Pharmacy locations with time delay safes display visible signage warning that time delay safes are in use to prevent on-demand access to controlled substance narcotics.

CVS Health's time delay safe program is one of many company initiatives to help address and prevent prescription opioid misuse, diversion and abuse.

The company, for example, has expanded its Safe Medication Disposal Program in North Carolina, completing the installation of 65 drug disposal kiosks in select CVS Pharmacy locations in communities across the state, adding to the 42 units previously donated to local law enforcement.

In 2020, the company will add 1,000 in-store safe medication disposal units to the more than 1,800 units currently in CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide. It will also donate up to 400 additional units to local police departments, in addition to the 1000 units already donated to law enforcement. Together, the existing medication disposal units have collected more than 1.1 million pounds of unwanted or expired medications, including 47,000 pounds in North Carolina.

Additionally, beginning next year, all CVS Pharmacy locations that do not offer a safe medication disposal kiosk will begin to offer DisposeRx packets at no cost to patients filling an opioid prescription for the first time. According to the manufacturer, when water and the DisposeRx powder are added to a pill bottle with unwanted prescription medications, the combination produces a biodegradable gel, allowing for safe disposal at home.

CVS Health's commitment to helping prevent and address prescription drug misuse also extends to community education and increasing access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

The company is collaborating with Discovery Education, tapping into their expertise in digital curriculum and content, to enhance CVS Health's prescription drug abuse prevention education program, Pharmacists Teach. The program, which has already reached more than 500,000 students and parents across the country, will aim to reach an additional 1.4 million people over three years following this investment.

Finally, CVS Pharmacy patients can now access the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone without an individual prescription at every CVS Pharmacy location nationwide, including all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. CVS Health has also worked with Google to help people locate naloxone at CVS Pharmacy and other locations in their local community using Google's locator tool.

To learn more about CVS Health's efforts to combat prescription drug misuse, visit our website.

About CVS Pharmacy

CVS Health is the nation's premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Whether in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable, accessible, simple and seamless. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, engaging consumers with the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has approximately 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 102 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year and expanding specialty pharmacy services. CVS Health also serves an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offerings and a leading standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The Company believes its innovative health care model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Media Contacts

Joe Goode
401-770-9820
Joseph.Goode@CVSHealth.com

Brent Burkhardt
410-299-2528
bburkhardt@tbc.us

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From California to Connecticut, Investing in Health at the Local Level

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In Davidson, North Carolina, chronically ill community members will have increased access to essential services. In West Chester, Pennsylvania, more of the local uninsured population will be able to participate in a non-opioid pain management program.

Those city’s free health clinics, along with nearly 130 others from California to Connecticut, will be better able to meet their community’s health needs thanks to nearly $3 million in grants from CVS Health and its Foundation to the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) and their members.

The grants furthers Aetna and CVS Health’s commitment to building healthier communities by investing in health at the local level, as these clinics will help better manage chronic disease, provide more wraparound services to address the social determinants of health, support treatment and prevention of substance abuse, including opioids and tobacco, and more.

Ranging from $10,000 – 20,000 each, the grants will be distributed to Free & Charitable Clinics in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

“Taking on these root causes of poor health will help us create lasting change towards health equity in America,” – Nicole Lamoureux, President & CEO of the NAFC.

The new funds bring the company and the CVS Health Foundation’s total contribution to NAFC to nearly $8 million since 2015.

Supporting Aetna and CVS Health’s combined goals of improving outcomes and lowering costs, more than 17,000 patients across the country had access to needed health care in 2018 as a result of last year’s NAFC grants funding. Two grantees alone saved their local hospitals $9.7 million by providing primary care to patients who would otherwise rely on the emergency room.

For more information on how the Free and Charitable Clinics will be utilizing their grants to improve community health, visit www.cvshealth.com/NAFC.

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Aetna Foundation’s ‘Spotlight Award’: 10 programs improving community health

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Ten U.S. community health programs participating in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge received the Aetna Foundation’s “Spotlight Award.” The awardees will receive a $25,000 prize to further support their programs, which will help build sustainable models that can be used in other communities.

“Where a person lives has a profound impact on how they live – particularly when it comes to their health,” said Mark T. Bertolini, the chairman of the Aetna Foundation and chairman and CEO of Aetna. “The Spotlight Award recipients are outstanding examples of how important progress can be made when communities work together to look at the biggest issues facing their neighborhoods and develop healthy, home-grown solutions.”

The Spotlight Awards highlight the early success stories from participants that have demonstrated significant progress since the launch of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge.

“Communities invest heavily in local residents’ health and well-being, often serving as a safety net for low-income and vulnerable residents,” said Roy Charles Brooks, president of the National Association of Counties. “We know just as each community is unique, so too are the health challenges they face. These award winners are examples of what can be achieved when counties work with community partners to solve serious, complex public health issues.”

In addition, five community health programs were recognized as Honorable Mention awardees and will receive a $10,000 prize to advance their work. The programs are a part of the Healthy50 — the 50 finalists in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, which will award $1.5 million in prizes to cities and counties that show measurable improvements in health outcomes over the course of several years through cross-sector partnerships.

“Since the Challenge launched, we have seen numerous improvements and advancements in the health of the 50 participating communities,” said Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association. “The Spotlight Awards are a moment to showcase the innovative work being done in cities and counties to address social determinants of health.”

Spotlight Award winners

Bridgeport Coalition United to Reach Equity — Connecticut

Bridgeport Coalition United to Reach Equity, a project designed to help residents of Bridgeport address the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their community.

The East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone’s Pop-up Market leveraged its strategic community partnerships and made a concerted effort to include residents in the entire community engagement process. The process included job creation, types of job training programs and identifying small businesses for development training to improve access to healthy, affordable food in the East End community.

iGrow Food Network — Florida

Tallahassee Leon County is working to address pockets of food source inequality in Tallahassee and Leon County.

The iGrow Food Network is a culturally-competent youth empowerment and urban agriculture entrepreneurship program of the Tallahassee Food Network that leverages community partnerships to focus on education, outreach and community engagement to achieve food security in USDA-designated food deserts by increasing healthy food access.

Live Healthy Little Havana — Florida

Live Healthy Little Havana’s goal is to strengthen community capacity to collaboratively plan and collectively carryout strategies to improve health. Residents are addressing physical activity, primary care and improving the community’s walk score.

West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative — Kentucky

West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative Louisville Metro Government intends to build culture residents connect to nature to improve physical and mental health by increasing physical activity and reducing toxic stress, as well as increasing social cohesion to deter crime.

The West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative created multiple annual paths through its parks department and community partners. The paths allow youth ages 3 to 19 to engage with nature.

The SMART Initiative — New Jersey

The SMART Initiative will reduce the number of sewer overflows to improve water quality in waterways and green infrastructure with a robust focus on community input and guidance.

The Initiative reengages diverse residents through innovative community meetings, forums, large scale events and mobile applications to educate residents on the impact of combined sewer systems and green infrastructure.

Chatham Health Alliance — North Carolina

Chatham Health Alliance is implementing a multilevel initiative targeting obesity, the leading health issue identified in a 2014 Community Health Assessment.

The project leverages partnerships built between the Health Department, the Alliance and numerous stakeholders by embedding a Health in All Policies approach in the Chatham Country Comprehensive Plan, which sets the vision for the county over the next 25 years.

Village HeartBEAT — North Carolina

The Village HeartBEAT program is working to reduce the incidence of heart disease in the Public Health Priority Areas zip codes.

The program works in collaboration with all members of faith-based organizations and leaders to engage and ensure that everyone in Mecklenburg County enjoy good health, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability, age or socioeconomic status.

The Heart of Texas Urban Gardening Coalition — Texas

The Heart of Texas Urban Gardening Coalition is helping residents in three zip codes to more easily access and eat healthy foods by promoting current resources of fresh and locally grown food, hosting nutrition education sessions, and utilizing community health workers to connect residents to resources, as well as providing fresh produce delivery.

The Coalition partners with Waco area organizations to create awareness and access to the available fresh local produce by utilizing local vendors and resources, such as the Mobile Farmer’s Market.

Health Collaborative — Virginia

The Health Collaborative has created action teams in four areas: healthy eating, active living, access to health care and cross-cutting approaches.

The Health collaborative focuses on policies, systems and environmental change to support the creation of effective and inclusive policies. The Collaborative is providing access to food and opportunities for physical activity.

Active Design for a Healthier Thurston County — Washington

Thurston County addresses the need for better conditions to support physical activity in key county areas to increase access to and promotion of the trail system.

The project developed and applied web-based tools for data collection and display of information as part of the “walkshed” analysis, which measured the walkability around various locations. The analysis was aimed at boosting physical activity levels.

Honorable mentions

Food is Medicine — Florida

The Food is Medicine program aims to improve the health of people living in food deserts or low-income/low food access areas of St. Petersburg, Florida. The program offers residents access to low cost produce, increases educational opportunities and works to eliminate barriers to health.

The program uses a multifaceted approach to improve health behaviors and influence change. It uses education, community collaboration, biometric screenings and participant incentives. The program also offers evidence-based curriculum in areas such as wellness, nutrition, healthy cooking, budgeting for healthy eating, fitness, childhood obesity prevention, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Be Well, B’More — Maryland

The goal of Be Well, B’More is to increase physical activity and promote activities unifying Baltimore residents in the city’s outdoor space across neighborhoods.

The program uses trusted local partners within the neighborhoods through new cross-sector collaborations. Community organizations, such as Girl Trek and health Freedom Inc., as well as media partners, such as WBAL and the Baltimore Sun, allowed the program’s reach to expand.

Blue Print for Violence Reduction — New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey, reclassified community violence as a health issue. The project aims to promote healthier behaviors as a strategy for reducing violence.

Organizations worked together to focus on improving youth health in new and engaging ways that include non-traditional activities, such as chess and yoga, and violence interruptions, including “Occupy the Block” events.

The North Carolina Healthiest Counties Cross-Sector Team — North Carolina

The North Carolina Healthiest Counties Cross-Sector Team seeks to improve population health, payment reform and health equity in both Cabarrus and Durham Counties by addressing nutrition/food insecurity, physical activity, tobacco use, integrating physical activity “prescriptions” into clinical care and piloting health care delivery and payment reform through community health workers.

The Durham County Health Department and its partners launched public policy changes to encourage greater utilization of Community Health Workers to improve the physical and financial health of the county to improve the physical and financial health of the county.

Walk Works ChesCo! — Pennsylvania

The program’s goal is to promote, educate and empower people to adopt a healthier lifestyle by encouraging residents to walk through the Walk Works ChesCo! Program.

The program reached out to a diverse group of partner organizations to promote the challenge to get community members engaged. The group was actively engaged in planning, implementing and participating in the Challenge. Walk Works routes were announced in Coatesville and Phoenixville.

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Aetna Foundation launches funding initiative to help fight opioid epidemic

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The Aetna Foundation is launching a funding initiative to fight the ongoing opioid epidemic in the U.S. and help communities and states that have been particularly hard hit. Grants totaling $6 million will fund state and local projects with the potential to make a real difference in addressing opioid-related challenges.

North Carolina will be the first state to receive a grant through the Aetna Foundation’s initiative. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition will receive $1 million to help fund its “Rural Opioid Overdose Prevention Project.”

“While this is a national health crisis, there is no single solution that can be applied across the country,” said Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S., Aetna’s executive vice president and chief medical officer and member of the Aetna Foundation Board of Directors. “These grants will provide important resources to empower local communities to address the unique characteristics of the opioid-related problems they are facing.”

In a survey conducted by Morning Consult, 77 percent of respondents said the role of local communities and community organizations are important in fighting the opioid epidemic. The survey was conducted from Feb. 8 through Feb. 12, 2018, and 2,201 adults participated.

With one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths nationwide, the funding will help provide community-level risk education in five rural counties in North Carolina; distribute naloxone kits to rural, high-risk opioid users; and increase adoption of best practice policies on overdose prevention.

More than 12 million people in the U.S. misuse prescription opioids, according to the most recent data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids in 2016 was five times higher than in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2010, drug overdoses overtook motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of injury death in North Carolina. An average of five people a day died from drug overdoses in North Carolina in 2016, according to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.

“There’s no question that rural communities in North Carolina have been especially hit hard by this epidemic. There are far too many tragic stories of lives being lost and families bearing the burden,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. “North Carolina Harm Reduction has been doing excellent work to confront these challenges. I am grateful to Aetna for supporting North Carolina Harm Reduction to save lives in North Carolina communities.”

The Aetna Foundation will be announcing grants to other organizations in additional states over the next several months as part of its mission of Building Healthy Communities by supporting locally-based programs, dynamic partnerships, and proven models that can help accelerate progress everywhere.

“For the first time in our history, our children’s generation is not expected to live as long as our own. That is due in large part to the epidemic of opioid abuse, which presents a clear and present threat to our communities and health care resources,” said Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H, president of the Aetna Foundation and vice president of Community Health for Aetna. “The innovative work that the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition is doing on the ground is promising, and it’s our hope that it can also offer a road map for outreach in other rural communities.”

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Guardian Angel opioids program reaching members at critical time

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Health care should be personal, and it should help us during our most vulnerable, difficult times. There are few instances when this type of support is more necessary than when people end up in the emergency room because of a problem they can’t control any more.

Unfortunately, we are seeing this scene play out more and more frequently across the country. Emergency department visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in all parts of the United States from July 2016 to September 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order to address one of the biggest public health issues of this generation, we don’t just need to do more – we need to think differently about how to solve this problem. We have to connect with people during the times that they are amost receptive to help, such as after an overdose.

Aetna recently launched the Guardian Angel program, which is intended to reach our members during this critical time. As soon as we learn that a member has had an opioid-related overdose, a specially-trained case manager – a registered nurse that used to work in an addiction unit and is a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor – reaches out to educate that person on treatment options in their area. While our nurse case manager can refer the member to a local health care provider, they can also provide access to nearby social support services. More than anything else, they can serve as a lifeline for members and their families.

The first “Guardian Angel” nurse case manager has connected with hundreds of overdose victims over the past few months. Through her outreach, we are seeing the widespread nature of this epidemic: Individuals as young as 18, up to those in their 60s, from every corner of the country. But we are also seeing people who want help. We have been able to initially engage with 40 percent of the people that we have reached out to, which is two- to three-times greater than our usual rate for telephone-based care management programs.

Much more important than the numbers, we are hearing stories of people starting on a road to recovery. Some examples:

  • A 22-year-old woman from Colorado who had two overdoses on fentanyl-laced heroin, now attending group therapy five times a week.

  • A 63-year-old woman from Ohio who has battled a painkiller addiction for more than a decade, agreeing to start treatment and connect with local health care specialists.

  • A 38-year-old man from Missouri – a single father with a nine-year-old daughter – who asked our nurse case manager about starting on Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) immediately.

While these stories are encouraging, we understand that they are just a small step, and that we need to work with all parts of the health care system to address this epidemic. With that in mind, the Aetna Foundation recently announced two grants totaling $1 million to the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA). Conducted in collaboration with the Florida Hospital Association and the Florida College of Emergency Physicians, the effort is intended to provide individuals with opioid use disorder with access to treatment services at a time when there is the greatest opportunity to intervene and address the addiction. This follows the model we developed with grants earlier this year in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, working with state leaders and community organizations to develop local solutions.

These programs, along with other elements of Aetna’s multi-faceted approach to reduce opioid use and abuse, won’t solve the opioid epidemic on their own. But we know that they can positively impact people’s lives. And I know from personal experience how important that type of support can be. After I suffered a severe skiing accident in 2004, doctors prescribed me a number of opioid-based painkillers. While it never got to the level of addiction, I absolutely needed help to figure out a way to manage my pain without prescription medication. I was fortunate enough to meet people that helped me along my journey, and I’m forever grateful to them. My hope is that some of our members who are in these situations will eventually have the same types of feelings about the Aetna “guardian angel” that made a difference in their lives.

NoteThis article has also been posted to the U.S. News & World Report website.

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U.S. News & World Report: The Power of Community to Improve Health

U.S. News & World Report: The Power of Community to Improve Health
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This op-ed authored by Karen Lynch, Executive Vice President, CVS Health and President, Aetna Business Unit, was originally published by U.S. News & World Report on March 26, 2019.

When it comes to better health, the power of real change lies within our communities. Health issues, such as obesity and opioid dependency, are widespread problems that have a tremendous impact on the physical, emotional and financial health of our nation.

While certain programs are successful in reducing the prevalence of such health issues and are scaled and replicated whenever possible, we must recognize that there are going to be elements of these problems that are as diverse and unique as the communities they impact. It is therefore critical that we not only share best practices, but also provide communities with the support and flexibility they need to create local solutions that have the power to affect real change and improve public health. 

Our Commitment for Better Health

Being able to support community-driven solutions and then share them with organizations across the country is the core element of CVS Health’s new “Building Healthier Communities” initiative. As part of this effort, CVS Health and its affiliates have committed a combined $100 million over the next five years to making community health and wellness central to the company’s charge for a better world. By using the combined capabilities of both CVS Health and Aetna, as well as the philanthropic giving of the CVS Health Foundation and the Aetna Foundation, we can deliver a measurable impact on the health of communities across the United States.

The Aetna Foundation’s collaboration with U.S. News & World Report on the Healthiest Communities rankings is part of our larger strategy, providing us with data-based insight on communities across the country and helping us to see changes in community health over time. In addition to assessing which communities offer their citizens the greatest opportunity to live a productive, healthy life, the project serves as a tool to inform residents, health care leaders and elected officials about policies and best practices that help drive better health outcomes.

While this marks only the rankings’ second year, both CVS Health and Aetna have an outstanding and long-established history of community investment. Even though it typically takes public health programs time to make an impact, some of our most recently implemented programs are already creating long-lasting improvements in community health.

Better Health Is Powered Locally  

CVS Health and Aetna support organizations throughout the country, but two programs in different parts of North Carolina demonstrate the potential impact of engaging with local communities to provide the support they need to create unique, targeted solutions.

Mecklenburg County is the most heavily populated county in the state and includes one of its most prominent cities, Charlotte. Here, the African-American population is disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular disease compared to their white counterparts.

To combat this, Village HeartBEAT — one of the grand prizewinners of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge — activated more than 60 local faith-based organizations to help over 20,000 local residents access health resources to reduce cardiovascular risk. As a result, VHB reduced the smoking rate in the community from 17.4 percent to 13.9 percent and obesity rates from 70 percent to 64.7 percent. Beyond the numbers, you can see and hear the passion from residents who are participating in this program and realize that they are improving the health of their community.

We've found that in rural communities in North Carolina, friends and neighbors have become the frontline defense against opioid overdose deaths. To address this issue, we are helping the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition give individuals the tools they need to recognize and respond to an overdose in order to save more lives. The results have been impressive. In 2018, coalition outreach workers distributed 6,408 naloxone kits to high-risk opioid users in five targeted rural counties, with 554 overdose reversal reports.

We believe the path to better health can be reached by creating a whole new health care model that's more local, affordable and easier to use. Strengthening our local support and community engagement is a key part of this approach. By empowering organizations and residents to implement local solutions, we have an incredible opportunity to improve the physical, emotional and economic well-being of the country, one community at a time.

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Aetna announces call for nominations for Aetna's Voices of Health competition

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HARTFORD, Conn., April 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Aetna, a CVS Health business, today announced they are seeking nominations for the company's 2019 Voices of Health competition, which celebrates non-profit grassroots organizations working to address social determinants of health. The nomination period runs from April 1st 12th.

"We are excited to give people the opportunity to nominate incredible organizations that are moving the needle to help underserved communities find the resources they need in order to live healthier, happier lives," said Floyd W. Green, Aetna's vice president of community activation.

Nominations are open to non-profit organizations in the following cities:

  • New York City
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Fresno, CA
  • Houston, TX
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Kings County, WA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Louisville, KY
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Inland Empire, CA (San Bernardino and Riverside)
  • Santa Clara, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Tacoma, WA

Following the nomination period, an internal Aetna committee will select between five to 10 organizations in each city to participate in the upcoming Aetna's Voices of Health competition, which begins on September 9th.

Voices of Health is a friendly voting competition that will take place in all 20 markets, where non-profits will be vying for prize money to help further their missions. More information on the Voices of Health competition will be shared in the coming months.

For official rules and criteria or to submit a nomination, visit aetnavoicesofhealth.com

About Aetna

Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 39 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit www.aetna.com and explore how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. @AetnaNews

Aetna Media Contact:

Anjie Coplin
CoplinA@aetna.com
214-200-8056

SOURCE Aetna

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