; Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan Foundation Provides $50,000 Grant For Charlevoix Area Hospital Foundation's School Nurse Project
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Press Release

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan Foundation Provides $50,000 Grant For Charlevoix Area Hospital Foundation's School Nurse Project

July 12, 2011

CHARLEVOIX — The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation continues its mission to improve access to quality health care by funding a grant to support the Charlevoix Area Hospital Foundation’s School Nurse Project. The project places a registered nurse in Charlevoix and Antrim county schools to support the physical, mental, emotional and social health of students and their success in school.

"The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is committed to helping Michigan residents, including children, live healthier lives. The School Nurse Project helps give students in the Charlevoix area access to quality health care,” said Ira Strumwasser, vice-president of the Blue Cross Foundation.

Since the grant’s approval, Charlevoix Area Hospital has hired and placed two registered nurses in Charlevoix Public Schools and East Jordan Public Schools. There are plans to add two additional nurses during the 2011-2012 school year to service two or three smaller schools in the district. The school nurses not only take care of normal duties associated with the position, but also focus on making children healthier through preventive programs and education. If necessary, they make appropriate referrals to area providers.

School nurses also provide nutritional counseling, advice for school meals and appropriate health screenings. Parents are included in discussions about health-related issues. Teachers are armed with information on wellness topics and possible health warning signs, including environmental alerts or signals for existing or potential health threats to the region. Grantee schools are working closely with superintendents, principals and teachers to ensure the needs of the county’s school-aged children and their families are met.

“Foremost, we believe our school nurse project will increase access to health care for the children of Charlevoix and northern Antrim counties. As a nonprofit community hospital, our goal is to improve the health of the communities we serve. Sometimes this requires us to “step out” of our four walls and bring health services to the community,” said Christine Wilhelm, vice-president of Operations for Charlevoix Area Hospital. “We also believe this program acts as a bridge between young families and physicians. Our nurses always encourage families to establish a relationship with a primary care doctor.”

The response to the School Nurse Project has been overwhelmingly positive, especially since many school nurses and clinics have been closed due to budget cuts. In the Charlevoix county area, children and families face increasing challenges related to education and health status primarily due to declining economic conditions and decreased access to health care services for the under- and uninsured.

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation
The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is dedicated to improving the health of Michigan residents by supporting health care research and innovative health programs. The foundation’s grant programs are conducted in Michigan by Michigan-based researchers and nonprofit community health care organizations. Over the past 25 years, the BCBSM Foundation has contributed approximately $35 million in grants for research and $10 million for community health programs. This funding has resulted in enhancements to quality, patient safety and access to care for the people of Michigan. The foundation also supports efforts to control the rising costs of health care through research, demonstration and evaluation projects. The BCBSM Foundation is the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit bcbsm.com/foundation.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to nearly 4.3 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. BCBSM also offers dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 103 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.