Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that healthcare workers on the front lines are protected and that Minnesotans vulnerable to food insecurity, homelessness or an inability to work because of a lack of childcare receive the assistance they need. "Nutrition plays a critical role in keeping people healthy, especially in the face of a pandemic," says Dr. Mark Steffen, vice president and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "Keeping people as healthy as possible is particularly important right now."
OVERVIEW OF RESPONSE EFFORTS
Protecting front line healthcare workers
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Minnesota (BCBSMN) is supporting healthcare providers by delivering personal protective equipment to those working on the front lines of battling COVID-19. BCBSMN has partnered with Allina Health System to launch a statewide volunteer effort to create CDC-approved, hand-sewn, reusable masks for healthcare providers and other organizations throughout Minnesota. BCBSMN has also partnered with North Memorial Health to call on volunteers to make mask covers out of surgical draping. Healthcare workers can wear the covers over N95 masks so they can be worn for longer periods of time.
Addressing food Insecurities
Increasing unemployment amidst the financial consequences of COVID-19 has challenged many Minnesotans in putting food on the table. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has committed $750,000 to Second Harvest Heartland’s COVID-19 response plan. This funding supports the creation of emergency food boxes for families facing missed work and an uncertain economy.
Additionally, targeted funding of $15,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation has been made to both Northpoint Health and Wellness and the Minneapolis American Indian Center to help fund their emergency food programs.
Emergency funding and supporting at risk populations
In addition to its ongoing focus areas of Healthy Start, Healthy Connections and Access to Coverage, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation is addressing urgent community needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic:
- More than $825,000 has been granted to community organizations through its COVID-19 rapid response fund, supporting work including:
- Child care for health care workers, emergency workers and other priority populations
- Emergency food shelf and food delivery for vulnerable people
- Support for people experiencing economic insecurity
- Anti-xenophobia and anti-bias efforts related to COVID-19
- Homelessness or housing insecurity exacerbated by the crisis
- $100,000 contributions made to both the Headwaters Foundation for Justice’s Communities First Fund and the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund, to support both short and long-term needs within communities across the state
- $100,000 grant provided to the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) to support a campaign to address anti-Asian racism heightened by COVID-19 and affirm the belonging and safety of Asian Minnesotans
- The Foundation’s recent Healthy Start funding opportunity was adjusted to address emerging needs in early childhood care and education related to COVID-19
- Financial assistance in addition to the core grant has been offered to current grantee partners to support sustainability
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.