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Donated time and dollars supported COVID-19 response

When COVID-19 restrictions went into place in March, communities across the nation grappled with how to support residents’ everyday health and well-being under constraining circumstances.

There are thousands of clinicians, public health workers, non-profit employees, civil servants, and Humana associates, whose regular jobs depend on helping people with their mental and physical well-being, and so they were especially motivated to find solutions that would sustain their customers.

So what did they do? They connected. They innovated. They rallied support and banded together to get people the help they needed as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

In Humana Bold Goal communities, where we’ve made a commitment to improve the health of populations, partners started thinking outside of the box. Humana works hand in hand with those organizations – from physicians to hospitals to food banks and United Ways – that serve individuals and families. Hundreds of partners in Humana’s Bold Goal communities sprang into overdrive as they combined in creative efforts and used donated and matched dollar funds to reach the people most in need. A range of initiatives Humana helped support brought in an estimated $18 million in donations, partly enabled by Humana’s pledged $800,000 dollars during the initial COVID-19 shutdown.

Among the most Herculean work sparked by the crisis needs was contactless food distribution. Across the nation, food banks reconfigured their operations and ramped up supplies to meet needs. Some physician offices that saw dramatic drops in office visits shared their personnel – in the way of vans and drivers and phone bank operations – to help distribute food and basic essentials to neighborhoods.

In New Orleans, for example, Luella Provenza, chief impact officer for Second Harvest Food Bank, Feeding South Louisiana, was used to supporting at-risk residents and is a community partner with Humana. The organization needed additional support for food box deliveries.

Amy Blaylock, Humana’s market development advisor, works with JenCare, a local healthcare provider, and realized its facilities had seen a marked decrease in van use. She was able to connect Provenza and Ali Malik, market general manager at JenCare and the wheels were set in motion, literally. Vans and drivers were able to be deployed to help distribute meals, in a sophisticated and efficient way.

“We were talking to JenCare, and Ali said, ‘We have a transportation software we can use.’” Provenza said. “My mouth dropped open. Holy moly.”

Not only that, but the provider was able to pivot its intake calls to screen for food insecurity and get its patients and, also, New Orleans residents calling into the 211 help line, into the food bank’s queue for distribution.

“In a short time frame, they were able to get us up and running.” Provenza said.

In Florida, Linda Levin, executive director of ElderSource, a nonprofit Agency on Aging and Aging & Disability Resource Center in Northeast Florida, had to quickly figure out how to serve new and existing clients while shifting all of the agency’s 56 staff members to socially-distanced work environments. Eldersource’s clientele of 12,000 people has grown exponentially in its seven-county area surrounding Jacksonville and funding comes from numerous places, but the logistics of getting the funding and the resources to the people who need it are challenging.

She said many people don’t realize what it takes to get funds to the end user. That’s where her organization comes in.

“When it comes at you like that, and you have to make sure it meets the donor’s or grant’s requirements, it’s a lot of work,” she said. “It’s great, and we feel fortunate, but it’s definitely different than how we normally do things.”

By that same token, ElderSource can see where there are gaps that need filled and so when Humana asked how we would help, it was able to work with Farm Share, a nonprofit food distribution agency, to create 1,000 bags of personal care items for seniors. Seniors received a roll of paper towels, a few rolls of toilet paper, a nonperishable food item, face tissues and an assortment of hygiene products.

Together with another nonprofit, Aging True, ElderSource packed the bags, which were delivered to food insecure seniors receiving home-delivered meals.

And, in Chicago, Sweet Potato Patch, a newer nonprofit working to connect food insecure residents in food deserts on the South Side with healthy meal options by sourcing it from struggling Black farmers, founder Stacey Minor found herself hiring more people to get more clients the food they needed at the height of social isolation measures in April.

Sweet Potato Patch works with the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Fund, which addresses health gaps fueled by social, economic and environmental determinants of health. Several healthcare companies, including Humana, joined in the effort to improve health for the at-risk populations, particularly because they are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19.

The nonprofit had signed up 150 customers before receiving the AHA funding, with the AHA, but after the partnership and additional partner funding, it delivered to 500 people.

You’ll find more examples of how the Bold Goal communities responded to COVID-19 restriction hurdles and additional resources to support those facing loneliness and food insecurity at https://populationhealth.humana.com/stories/

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