February 22, 2020

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Misconceptions About Health Care: CVS Caremark Charitable Trust Launches New Video Series

Nearly 40 percent of people think that what they eat has little to do with whether they get a chronic disease.


By Eileen Howard Boone, President, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust

If 75 percent of your income was spent on managing a medical condition that could have been prevented, that would get your attention, right?

That staggering statistic caught CVS Caremark’s attention. With a mission to help make health care more accessible for all, we – the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust – decided to partner with the National Association of Community Health Centers to develop the “Innovations in Community Health” grant program.

A $3 million, three-year initiative, the program is aimed at helping community health centers increase access to quality health care and directly support underserved patients who are managing chronic diseases.

Today, CVS Caremark is launching a video series with CSRwire to highlight the impactful work that these community health centers perform every day as they provide better care, health services and education to their communities across the country.

Chronic Disease Care in America: A $1 Trillion Budget

But first some more context.

As a nation, most of our health care dollars are spent on chronic disease care. That’s more than $1 trillion a year spent on treating preventable conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. And, the impact extends beyond the dollars spent. More than half of Americans suffer hypertensionfrom one or more chronic diseases every year, making these diseases the leading causes of death and disability. 

Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four modifiable health risk behaviors—lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption—are responsible for much of the illness, suffering and early death related to chronic diseases.

Considering that seven out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases, we commissioned a survey to gain a better understanding of why these preventable illnesses continue to compromise America’s health and wallet. And, the findings were insightful, important and at times, alarming.

A Path to Better Health

The survey not only revealed the public’s misconception and understanding of chronic disease, it found that the majority of respondents admitted they are not doing as much as they could to stay healthy.

Nearly 40 percent of people think that what they eat has little to do with whether they get a chronic disease. And nearly 65 percent of people are aware they should exercise regularly, but they do not.

These alarming results motivated us to put on our strategic hats. How could we help address these misconceptions and the significant impact of chronic disease on all Americans?

One of the answers was local empowerment.

Local Empowerment: Reversing a Trend 

The public’s misconceptions and the significant impact of chronic disease on all Americans prompted us to act and help put America on a path to better health. The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, a private foundation created by CVS Caremark, responded by partnering with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to award “Innovations in Community Health” grants to 21 community health centers across the U.S.

These grants, totaling more than $1 million, help support local health centers to develop innovative, community-based programs that focus on education, treatment and management of chronic illnesses, national association of community health centersspecifically heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

Why Community Health Centers?

Because they play a critical role in improving the quality of life for people with chronic diseases nationally, providing direct health services that are both affordable and accessible all under one roof. Their prescription is simple: treat people with quality primary care services before they are sick with a costly illness. We realized that by partnering with the Centers we could achieve what is often a tough target with philanthropic dollars: enabling local impact on a national scale.

We are excited and proud to support the great work of community-based health centers as they help treat and educate the public about chronic diseases. CVS Caremark recently visited some of the “Innovations in Community Health” grant recipients to learn about and experience the work they do every day.  

This debut video, the first of our series, highlights the impact the grant will have on North Country HealthCare in Flagstaff, Arizona.

North Country HealthCare had a care management program with a fairly simple objective: to ensure that patients receive quality care before and after being admitted to the hospital, ultimately helping them stay healthy while decreasing the chance for costly hospital readmission. However, their program had a few missing pieces vital to the overall health and management of their patients living with chronic diseases. They knew their patients’ needs while in their care didn't have a model to help them understand what their needs were once they returned to their community.

With the funding received from the Trust, North Country HealthCare has hired a Care Transition Social Worker to help patients with chronic diseases transition from acute hospital settings back into the community and to ensure they have the resources that will help them continue with their recovery.  This level of support is expected to reduce re-admissions and ER visits and build relationships with high-risk patients.

We're believers in incremental steps that have the potential to scale.

And this is one of the ways we interpret our responsibility toward making health care accessible to all. Stay tuned for more stories as I profile other health centers who are using their grants to make a positive impact. Each Center has a different roadblock, a different process.

But the target is the same: affordable health care for all.

For more information about the “Chronic Disease Awareness Survey” and the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and National Association of Community Health Center (NACHC) partnership, please click here.

About the Author:

Eileen Howard Boone is the senior vice president of Corporate Communications and Community Relations at CVS Caremark. In this role, she leads a team responsible for implementing a broad range of communications, philanthropic and CSR programs that align with the company’s purpose to help people on their path to better health.

Howard Boone is also the president of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, the private foundation of CVS Caremark. In this role, she oversees the foundation’s charitable giving and is responsible for creating and managing strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations that share in the Trust’s commitment to provide greater access to health care in communities throughout the country.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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