Friday, August 04, 2006

CareFirst Launches Campaign With American Stroke Association

American Stroke Association and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Join Forces on "Power To End Stroke" Awareness Campaign

In its 71st year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to nearly 3.4 million individuals and groups in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Delaware.

Through its CareFirst Commitment initiative and other public mission activities, CareFirst supports efforts to increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas.

The American Stroke Association and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) are teaming up to reduce the high incidence of stroke in the African-American community.

Both organizations see the potential for change through the multi-faceted "Power to End Stroke" awareness campaign. "The African-American community is at risk--way beyond other groups--and we are proud to spearhead a campaign that informs the public of the power they have to lower their risk of stroke," said Rhonda Chatmon, Director, State Health Alliances, American Stroke Association. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the Mid-Atlantic region, with African-Americans having almost twice the risk of suffering first-ever strokes compared to Caucasians.

African-Americans also have a higher prevalence of stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor eating habits and lack of physical fitness. "The campaign will be instrumental in creating awareness about stroke risk factors and advising people on stroke prevention," said Jon Shematek, M.D., CareFirst Vice President, Quality and Medical Policy.

"CareFirst looks forward to working with the American Stroke Association to lower the number of people having strokes in the African-American community and beyond." Support of the "Power to End Stroke" awareness campaign is a component of CareFirst Commitment, an initiative which supports efforts to increase the accessibility, affordability and quality of health care in the communities CareFirst serves.

CareFirst Commitment's community-focused efforts include a variety of programs aimed at closing gaps in access and delivery of health care. The campaign will include an effort to engage local business leaders and discuss the financial impact of stroke, distribution of physician toolkits specifically designed to help doctors better inform patients, a fitness/cooking event, and radio advertising on DC-based WKYS-FM, and WWIN-FM in Baltimore.

The goal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, is to reduce disability and death from stroke through research, education and advocacy. In its 2003-04 fiscal year, the association spent $162.4 million on stroke.