COVID-19: Volunteers provide critical support to local communities

Published April 27, 2020

Healing communities. For the Health of America.

COVID-19 continues to disrupt communities and place excessive strain on healthcare organizations across the country. This disruption and strain is drastically increasing the need for resources and support. Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are responding not only with critical donations, but by rolling up their sleeves and serving their communities with local volunteer programs and initiatives.

These programs include giving clinical employees paid volunteer time to serve as a resource to support direct patient care and providing other critical equipment and volunteer hours needed to support their communities.

Supporting front line efforts

  • Hospitals are reaching capacity in an effort to meet the needs rising from the growing number of COVID-19 cases across the country. The demand for medical professionals to support patient care continues to increase. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is offering its employees who are licensed nurses and behavioral health practitioners the opportunity to volunteer their time, resources and expertise during this public health crisis.
  • To fight the spread of COVID-19, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is supporting medically-qualified employees volunteering their time and expertise. Healthcare specialists, including doctors and nurses, among others, will be compensated for delivering life-saving care to those in need. The company put out a call for employee volunteers in April, and received more than 25 applications in the first 24 hours. At the time of writing, more than 30 employees have volunteered.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona (BCBSAZ) is supporting employees who are trained healthcare specialists in returning to practice as physicians, nurses and pharmacists to care for those in need. As part of the care community, BCBSAZ has developed agreements with Metro-Phoenix hospitals to provide additional support from medically qualified employees who are on standby to assist should their support be necessary.
  • To support employees with medical training who wish to serve, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) has expanded paid time off for volunteer service to 40 hours of compensated volunteer time. While every Horizon BCBSNJ employee receives 8 hours of compensated time for volunteerism each year, the company’s leadership quickly adopted the expanded policy in response to the Governor’s call to serve.
  • Requests by community leaders to volunteer and provide relief in support of medical professionals treating COVID-19 continue. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Medical Associate Volunteer Program allows their employees the opportunity to take paid leave from their regular role and use their medical expertise and training to support providers and deliver care and relief. For those associates who wish to volunteer, their volunteer hours are eligible for a "Dollars for Doers" match by the company’s philanthropic arm, Anthem Foundation.

Providing vital resources

  • One critical need that has emerged since the coronavirus outbreak is more personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Doctors and nurses have warned that they are running out of equipment to stay safe as they diagnose and treat patients. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Allina Health, along with several community partners, have launched a statewide volunteer effort, calling for people to sew and donate masks for doctors, nurses and other medical staff.
  • With social distancing requirements in place across the country, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has launched several virtual volunteer initiatives, including remote skills-based volunteering, college mentoring with Strive for College, warm wish notes with Cradles to Crayons, virtual storytelling with Message of Hope, and sewing face masks for local healthcare workers. They have also launched an online giving platform so employees can donate directly to any Massachusetts non-profit struggling through COVID-19. And they’re matching every donation.

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 health care coverage for one in three Americans.