; Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Awards $50,000 Grant To Pittsburgh Mercy Health System To Help Lead Local Individuals To Better Health
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Press Release

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Awards $50,000 Grant To Pittsburgh Mercy Health System To Help Lead Local Individuals To Better Health

August 20, 2012

PITTSBURGH — In an effort to assist those who are homeless, as well as individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness in our community, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield recently awarded a $50,000 grant to support two Pittsburgh Mercy Health System programs: In SHAPE (Individual Self-Health Action Plan for Empowerment) and Operation Safety Net's Severe Weather Emergency Shelter.

Created by Dr. Kenneth Ju in Keane, N.H., and brought to southwestern Pennsylvania by Pittsburgh Mercy Health System in January 2012, the In SHAPE program provides individuals with mental illness the opportunity to extend their lifespan by having a positive impact on their lifestyle and ultimately by improving their overall health. This goal is achieved through the completion of healthy lifestyle assessments and the development and implementation of individualized wellness plans that address nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation and other risk factors and lifestyle behaviors.

To date, the In SHAPE program has assisted 40 individuals in the greater Pittsburgh area. The Highmark grant supported the purchase of new athletic apparel for program participants, who, collectively, have walked 1,158 miles and lost 129 pounds.

In addition to supporting Pittsburgh Mercy's In SHAPE program, Highmark's grant also supports Operation Safety Net's Severe Weather Emergency Shelter, which is located at the Smithfield United Church of Christ at 620 Smithfield Street in downtown Pittsburgh. During the winter, the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter provides overnight shelter to individuals who are homeless and do not use one of the city's other existing emergency shelters. Operation Safety Net provides food, clothing, health care, housing and intensive case management resources to every person who stays at the shelter.

Last winter, Operation Safety Net served an average of 66 individuals each of the 31 nights the shelter was open. The Highmark grant will also be used to help fund residential care personnel, medication and personal hygiene supplies at the shelter.

"We support these Pittsburgh Mercy Health System initiatives because they align with our vision to provide individuals with the resources they need to live a healthy life," said Mary Anne Papale, Highmark's director of community affairs.

Since its creation in 1992, Operation Safety Net has helped more than 800 persons, who were once homeless, to find homes of their own.

"Pittsburgh Mercy Health System is most grateful to Highmark for its support of our efforts to improve the lives of the many people we serve in southwestern Pennsylvania," said Connie Murray, executive director of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System Development.

About Highmark
Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.9 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware through the company's health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 20,000 employees across the country and provides a broad range of health and wellness related services through subsidiary and affiliate companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

About Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, part of Catholic Health East and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, is among the greater Pittsburgh area's largest health and social service nonprofits with more than 60 locations in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh Mercy Health System includes A Child's Place at Mercy, McAuley Ministries, Mercy Behavioral Health, Mercy Community Health, Mercy Intellectual Disabilities Services, Mercy Parish Nurse and Health Ministry Program, Operation Safety Net® and Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center. Together, its programs and services touch the lives of approximately 25,000 individuals per year. To learn more, visit www.pmhs.org.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 105 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.