To say this lady wears many hats is an understatement.
The Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake is the president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and vice president of Community Affairs for Independence Blue Cross (IBC).
She is also the mother of three children: Julian, Chawnda and Jamila; and grandmother of Jamile. One can sense the feeling of pride as she notes all of her children attended an historically Black college, i.e. Howard, Lincoln, Spelman and Xavier — and are successful in their respective careers.
Marshall-Blake serves as associate minister at Vine Memorial Baptist Church and spiritual chief officer at IBC where, from time to time, she has been called on to provide spiritual support for employees experiencing personal challenges and/or when an employee dies.
Additionally, this lady serves as president of the Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The group is a Pan-Hellenic organization with approximately 400 members. This is a position she has held since last fall.
The chapter has initiated the Emerging Youth Leaders program focusing on leadership by design, and on purpose, through the Bailey Arrington Leadership Institute.
In her role with the IBC foundation, her philosophy is to take the social to the philanthropic. The foundation serves Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties.
Marshall-Blake believes it important to see where the clinics are and to interact with the staff and clients. To that end, she has visited all 32 clinics. The foundation’s six-member board meets twice a year. Launched in 2011 with a $10 million budget, the foundation has awarded $3.25 million to date. She loves her job and views it as her dream job. She’s worked at IBC for 22 years and served on the board of directors at one point. Before this position, she worked at the Philadelphia Gas Works for 14 years.
Literally, a lady of many hats, she’s known for the stylish hats that she wears every day. Being ladylike is a trait she patterned after her grandmother and mother.
“It’s important for young girls to see ladies as role models and to be able to see themselves unfold and learn to have love for themselves — as referenced in Dr. Mona Lake’s poem ‘Getting Ready to Unfold,’” Marshall-Blake said.
This tastefully dressed businesswoman appreciates hearing remarks of admiration from passers-by as she moves from activity to activity in Center City.
Her wardrobe is developed from selections delivered by Fred Lee, a deacon at her church who provides this service for many of the female congregation members.
While many view her as a fashionista, she describes herself as a classic dresser. However, she always makes a special effort to seek out a unique pair of earrings from a jeweler in New York during Pennsylvania Society Weekend.
A self-proclaimed “typical” middle child of five children (one brother is deceased), she and her siblings were expected to do well, go to school and “don’t go out acting a fool.”
Her father was a master plumber and handyman, while her mother stayed home to raise the children. When she was a baby, she was nicknamed “Bootsy” because she was small enough to fit inside her father’s fishing boot.
One of her fondest childhood memories is of Friday nights eating Chinese shrimp dinner from Ms. Punchey’s.
The family didn’t vacation much, however, a visit to Atlantic City or Wildwood for the day and a trip to Ocean City for the weekend were special treats.
She reflects fondly on neighborhood entrepreneurs “Mr. Otis” and “Miss Sadie” and she feels good to still know most of the families on the street on which she was raised and where her 84-year-old mother still resides. She has a special smile as she shares that she talks with her mother every day, no matter where she is, in or out of the country, and does her laundry and performs other duties that a daughter does for her mother.
Always mindful that “God never blinks” Marshall-Blake was raised to always be grateful for whatever you have and to treat everyone with the dignity they deserve.
She attended Brooks Elementary and was in the first group of bused students (to Mitchell Elementary on Kingsessing Avenue) and Overbrook High School. She has a master of arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a master of divinity degree from Palmer Theological Seminary (she was ordained on July 21, 2004) and an honorary doctorate of humanities from Albright College in Reading, Pa.
Marshall-Blake sleeps only about 4 to 5 hours daily and it’s ok with her.
She’s able to balance her extremely busy business, civic and personal life because she’s organized.
She noted that she and her father, who was exceptionally organized, would be awake moving through the home and doing things while the rest of the family was still sleeping.
Mentors of this extremely busy businesswoman include Delores Brisbon, Rev. Dorothy Watson Tatum, Anne Wrice Mullin, Chris Cashman, Dan Hilferty, Bruce Crawley and Councilwoman Augusta A. Clark. She gives back by mentoring several young people within and outside of the company. The group consists of Ayana Moses, who is getting married in Ghana and has invited Marshall-Blake to participate in the ceremony), Joanne Ferguson, Shalimar Blakeley, Bridgette Daniels and Marcus Allen.
The list of role models includes her mother, first lady Michelle Obama, her pastor, the Rev. James Allen, and her good friends, the Rev. Sandra Reed and Jan Gillespie.
These three words characterize this lady executive.
Moving from meeting to meeting, and activity to event, she logs many hours on a daily basis changing from corporate hat to community member to board member to mother and friend. After knowing her for a while, many of her business associates affectionately call her “Reenie.”
The recipient of numerous awards, she is quite proud to have been acknowledged by the Wynnefield Presbyterian Church, Women of Faith, the League of Women Voters with its Civil Leadership Award, BEBASHI, the Tribune’s Most Influential list, the American Jewish Committee. She also received the G. Fred DiBona Leadership Award, the highest award given by Independence Blue Cross.
An avid reader, she enjoys material from a variety of genres and quotes from them with ease. Some of her favorite books are: the Bible; “Heaven is For Real: A Little Boys Story of His Trip to Heaven,” Todd Blupo, et al; “Great Day Every Day: Navigating Life’s Challenges with Promise and Purpose” (Max Lucado) and Dennis Kimbro’s “What Keeps Me Standing: Letters From Black Grandmothers on Peace, Hope and Inspiration.”
With respect to leadership style she refers to “Leading Like Madiba: Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela.” This philosophy suggests that one does not have to be in front to lead; rather, one can lead from behind using one’s influence, bench strength and by supporting others — “it’s not always about a title,” she notes.
Marshall-Blake is excited simply about life every day and the possibilities of each new day. While much of what she does is in the public realm, most wouldn’t know that she has run the IBC Broad Street Run twice (and that’s the limit she says while smiling). She also loves to cook, and is a great cook, which can be attested to by anyone who has had the pleasure of dining on a meal she has prepared.
Other community activities include serving on the boards of the Philadelphia Urban League, the Urban Affairs Coalition, the Black Women’s Health Alliance and the IBC Safety Advisory Commission. She also finds time to be affiliated with 2000 African American Women, the Community College of Philadelphia and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
Cultural heroes and “sheroes” include Fannie Lou Hamer, Sojourner Truth and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “If they hadn’t done what they did, we wouldn’t be here to do what we are doing,” Marshall-Blake said.
Living legends who complete her list include General Colin Powell, President Barack Obama, and Radio One founder Cathy Hughes.
“Our young people need to be able to see them and learn how they are able to do what they do,” she said.
Her office, with a large picture window looking out over the city, is that of a busy woman. One gets a sense of who she is and what her interests are from the books, artifacts and other materials that are displayed throughout the space.
Family photos, AKA paraphernalia, an African-American doll with a small bag of cotton (‘lest we forget’), a photo of President Barack Obama, numerous awards, a bookcase full of books and other mementos. Her degrees adorn her office walls and there is a coffee table near the cushiony couch near the entrance to her office that holds some of her favorite books.
“The key to my success is my faith walk,” Marshall-Blake said. “I believe that as I succeed, you succeed. I love my job. When I leave at the end of the day, I feel fulfilled. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish at IBC. Those of us who are in these positions of leadership are the exception; we should be the rule, and young people should be able to see African Americans in different leadership roles.”
Eleventh Street Family Health Services of Drexel University has been bolstered by a $100,000 grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation.
The facility is one of 15 nonprofit community health clinics throughout the Philadelphia region serving 70,000 people that have received $1.04 million in grants from the IBC Foundation.
The foundation expects to award an additional $1 million in grants to community health clinics before the end of the year, bringing IBC’s support for the program to more than $2 million for 2011.
“We are proud to support these clinics, which for many people is their only source of primary care,” said foundation president Lorina Marshall-Blake.
“Tens of thousands of people depend on these clinics. The regular treatments and checkups they receive keep them out of emergency rooms and help them avoid costly specialty care that is often needed when chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, go untreated. Supporting clinics not only keeps people well and out of the ER, but it also saves our region millions of dollars by preventing unnecessary and expensive care.”
The Eleventh Street Family Health Services of Drexel University joins 14 other facilities in receiving IBC grant funding including: Congreso de Latinos Unidos; Covenant House Pennsylvania, Esperanza Health Center, Inc., Family Practice and Counseling Network Abbotsford/East Falls Center, PHMC Health Connection, and St. Catherine’s Laboure Medical Center, all in Philadelphia; Adult Health Center of Gwynedd-Mercy College, Lansdale, Ann Silverman Community Health Clinic, Doylestown; ChesPenn Health Services, Inc., Chester.; The Clinic, Phoenixville; Community Volunteers in Medicine, West Chester, and VNA Community Services, Inc., Ginny Coombs Children’s Health Center, Abington.
“We are grateful to the IBC Foundation for recognizing how important local clinics are to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Patricia Gerrity, director of Eleventh Street Family Health Services of Drexel University.
“The IBC Foundation’s support helps us offer services such as dental and behavioral health care, as well as a fitness center and nutrition training, which have become an integral part of what we offer and what our patients appreciate and need to stay healthy. IBC has been an extraordinary partner in helping us grow our facility and better serve our patients.”
The grants, which were made through the foundation’s Blue Safety Net initiative, is one of three areas the foundation is targeting in an effort to help transform health care in the region through innovation.
In an event launching the IBC foundation on Oct. 6, IBC president and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty said IBC would make an initial commitment of $10 million to fund the foundation’s work. The foundation will target two other areas: leading innovative approaches to health care and developing the health-care workforce of the future with an intense focus on nursing education.
The foundation’s support for clinics expands upon IBC’s commitment to improving health care access for the under and uninsured. Since 2005, Independence Blue Cross has contributed nearly $15 million to help support 36 private, nonprofit health clinics that serve nearly 120,000 patients and provide 400,000 visits annually in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
The energy and enthusiasm at of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. (AKA) Omega Omega Chapter’s “17th Annual Day of Sharing” was phenomenal. More than 200 members, students and community partners attended the chapter’s celebration of scholastic achievement and community service at Independence Blue Cross headquarters in downtown Philadelphia recently.
The Rev. Lorina Marshall Blake, chapter president and president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, noted how the event has grown since its inception in 1995. She extended a warm welcome and expressed gratitude to all in attendance. Following the invocation by Blake, the chapter’s first vice president and 2012 event chair, Carol Parkinson-Hall was introduced. Blake credited Parkinson for her consistent support and described the event as, “a celebration of our youth and their accomplishments.”
The 17th Annual Day of Sharing Omega Omega Chapter awarded over $50,000 in college scholarships and community partnership grants this year alone. The chapter has raised an incredible $492,500 for these initiatives over the past seven years. In addition to honoring the academic success of high school graduates, community organizations making a positive impact on our community are recognized.
The program also featured remarks by Sherilynn Johnson Kimble, board president of The 1926 Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Omega Omega Chapter; Dolores Parker, president, Ivy Cultural and Educational Foundation; college scholarship recipients; community partnership awardees; Edyth Ingram Award presentation to the “Lest We Forget” Museum; and performances by the Omega Omega Ensemble. Sisters Tiffany and Tiara Thompson also performed a lovely string duet and William Ramsey led us in a beautiful rendition of “The Negro National Anthem.”
Scholarship recipients, including one young lady still wearing her cap and gown from graduation earlier in the day, proudly and gratefully accepted certificates and checks from chapter officials. It was uplifting to hear these articulate young people speak about their plans to matriculate to various colleges and universities throughout the country. These institutions included Hampton University, Spelman College, La Salle University, California University of Pennsylvania and many more. These outstanding young men and women plan to major in a range of majors including biology, law, engineering, communications and other areas of interest.
Community Partnership Awardees for 2012 included: Charlie Mack’s Party4Peace Weekend in Collaboration with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Omega Omega Chapter and Keystone Mercy Health Plan/“Healthy Hoops Program,” Chosen 300 Ministries, Northwest Victim Services, Career Wardrobe, Black Women’s Health Alliance, Covenant House, Pa., Haven Youth Center Inc., Urban Garden – Teens for Good, Earth Keepers, Fresh Visions Youth Theatre Co., ACHIEVability, Dawn’s Place, Domestic Violence Walk, Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network, the National Association of University Women, Philadelphia Branch, Stephen Smith Towers, Tribune Charities and the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center.
Omega Omega Chapter members who presented community awards to these outstanding organization and diligently headed program initiatives were: Lisa Johnson and Tamika Farmbry (Emerging Youth Program); Patricia Robinson-Burns (Health Program); Stephanie Marsh (Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Program) (Global Poverty Program); Dr. Dawn Blue (Economic Security Program); Inger Taylor (Social Justice and Human Rights Program) and Dr. Delores Williams (Internal Leadership Training for External Service Program).
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., founded in 1908 at Howard University, is the first Greek-letter organization for African-American college women. Headquartered in Chicago, Ill., it is one of the world’s leading service organizations. The Sorority’s members have made a commitment “to serve all mankind” through a nucleus of more than 250,000 women in 958 chapters in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Africa. Attorney Carolyn House Stewart is the 28th International President (2010–2014). The current program theme is “Global Leadership Through Timeless Service.”
Omega Omega Chapter was chartered in 1926 and is the oldest graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. in the Philadelphia region. The first president and sorority founder, Ethel Hedgemann Lyle, was the visionary. It has over 400 members serving the Philadelphia area community. Omega Omega has provided programs, services, grants, and scholarships to women, men, children and families for over 85 years.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Omega Omega Chapter is congratulated for its ongoing community service and another major milestone. The entire membership extends special thanks to Independence Blue Cross for the generous use of their facilities.
Best wishes for continued success to all involved!
The Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society (PBPRS) has announced its new leadership team, who will serve a two-year term that began June 1 and will run until May 31, 2014.
The new president, Darisha K. Miller, is the director of Media Relations for Ross Associates, Inc. Miller has served as PBPRS vice president for the past two years, along with the immediate past president, Shalimar Blakely. Blakely, president of A Peace of PR, will now serve as chairperson of the PBPRS Advisory board. Miller has appointed Vincent Thompson, principal of Thompson Mediaman Communications, to serve as PBPRS vice president.
“As a premier communications organization we are working to promote an innovative team while ensuring our members receive support from the organization and the community,” said Miller.
“I’m excited to work in this capacity and with community partners to provide a positive business environment and learning experience for all.”
PBPRS’ new advisory board will serve the same two-year term.
Blakely is the new chair. David Brown is the immediate past chair. Board members include Attorney Nichole Badger; Anita T. Conner, CPA; A. Bruce Crawley; Anita Lewis; Rev. Lorina Marshall-Blake; William R. Miller IV; Jamila Patton and Dawn Angelique Roberts.
PBPRS, who has recently entered into a partnership with the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC), provides PR professionals with a venue for professional support and development.
“It was important for us to put together a team that could continue to move PBPRS in the right direction,” states Blakely.
“The organization is now in a great position that will allow us to focus on building a strong and active membership base.”
The new team will be introduced during the PBPRS Annual Membership Celebration, taking place June 12 at the Kimmel Center.
The 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University has received a grant to support the expansion of health services from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, through its Blue Safety Net initiative. The one-year grant of $75,000 will help the center build upon the primary health care and health services it provides in its underserved community, while Drexel continues to plan expansion beyond the limitations of the center’s current small facility.
The mission of the 11th Street Family Health Services is to provide quality, comprehensive services to vulnerable people and residents of four public housing units in the 11th Street corridor of North Philadelphia.
The center, which is entirely nurse-managed, has been recognized as a national, innovative university-community partnership model of care. The center offers primary care by nurse practitioners and comprehensive services by health professionals in dental, behavioral health, social work, creative arts and physical therapy, complementary and integrative health, fitness, health and nutrition education and more — in a single location within the community.
The center is the result of a 16-year partnership between community members and Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions and is operated in partnership with the Family Practice and Counseling Network.
The new grant is part of the IBC Foundation’s Blue Safety Net initiative, which was created as part of the foundation’s commitment to caring for the region’s most vulnerable.
This initiative provides grant support to non-profit, privately-funded health clinics in medically underserved communities in southeastern Pennsylvania and supports progressive, innovative approaches to expand access to health care in underserved communities.
This grant represents a continuation of the regular, generous support IBC has provided to Drexel’s 11th Street center, with gifts totaling nearly $1 million since 2004 to benefit the health of the underserved community at the center with new programs and expanded services.
Since Drexel’s facility at 850 North 11th Street opened in 2002, the number of patient visits to the center has increased significantly, from 2,200 in 2003 to 10,000 in 2007, to over 30,000 visits in 2011. The facility is at capacity.
“Adults and children need a single point of access for care that addresses the physiological and psychosocial aspects of the individual and family,” said Dr. Patricia Gerrity, the center’s director and a professor and associate dean for community programs in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. “We have a nationally recognized model that addresses those needs but need more space to increase capacity and expand the array of services we deliver.”
Drexel recently purchased land adjacent to the center’s current building and is working with the Philadelphia Housing Authority and other local agencies to expand the facility.
Drexel plans to raise funds to support the expansion through a benefit comedy performance by Bill Cosby at the University on October 5. This latest grant from the IBC Foundation will support the expansion of services in high demand by the 11th Street community.
“Drexel and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation share a deep commitment to the wellness of the people in this community,” said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the IBC Foundation. “By supporting the growth of this Center, which has become a community anchor, we’re excited to be able to provide access to better health care for many more people, for many years to come.”
The Public Health Management Corporation and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation have partnered to share information about access to health care services in Philadelphia.
By combining data from the IBC Foundation related to the 34 private, nonprofit health clinics it funds throughout the region with data from PHMC’s Community Health Data Base (CHDB) Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, the organizations will learn more about the populations the clinics serve and the savings the clinics contribute to the region’s health care system, such as reductions of approximately 20 percent in emergency room visits and of approximately 10 percent in hospitalization, among patients of Federally Qualified Health Centers versus private practices.
The analysis of this information will help PHMC and the IBC Foundation better understand where needs are not being adequately met and more effectively target gaps related to caring for clinic patients.
“In Philadelphia, 149,800 adults under 65 years, and 18,000 children, are living without any public or private health insurance coverage,” says CHDB program director Francine Axler.
“This indicates a considerable gap when it comes to accessing health care. Through our partnership with the IBC Foundation, our survey data can help identify at-risk populations and disparities so that more targeted support can be provided to those who are most vulnerable. This could translate into determining where funding goes and what specific services are provided.”
In late summer, PHMC will issue the first in a series of research briefs, drawing from the joint data, exploring access to care issues in Philadelphia and other southeastern Pennsylvania counties, as well as the outcomes that funding can help influence.
For example, PHMC’s initial assessment of the IBC Foundation’s data shows clinics funded first through the IBC Charitable Medical Care program from 2004 to 2010, and now through the IBC Foundation, have increased their capacity dramatically. According to PHMC’s assessment, the number of patients served annually across the clinics rose approximately 40 percent and the number of primary care visits provided annually by the clinics rose approximately 80 percent.
The IBC Foundation annually gathers detailed data from clinics including total patient visits, services used, insurance status, and Medicaid eligibility. In addition, the Foundation collects other useful information such as whether clinics use electronic medical records or whether the clinic may be in need of expanded services or space.
“The clinics’ overall annual operating budgets, across all sites, have shown 59 percent growth since the funding began, reflecting their ability to leverage investment from IBC Foundation to access other opportunities, most recently including major funding programs authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” said Alex Lehr O’Connell, director of technical assistance and consultation for Community Health Partners for Sustainability, a program of PHMC affiliate National Nursing Centers Consortium.
“PHMC expects to explore this ability to leverage funds in greater depth in one of the upcoming briefs.”
CHDB data help to clarify the critical importance of these increases in service capacity. In Philadelphia, 16.1 percent of adults ages 18 to 64 years do not have any public or private health insurance coverage, and 12.3 percent do not have a regular source of health care to turn to when ill. Due to the large sample size of its Household Health Survey, PHMC is able to analyze its data in small geographic areas and identify trends over the more than 25 years of the survey.
“By coupling this with information from the IBC Foundation-funded clinics, we hope to gain insight into how funding helps clinics meet community needs, the impact of these clinics on health care savings, as well as information about what unmet needs require further investment,” says Lehr O’Connell.
“While the partnership focuses on the rich data from both organizations, it is the impact on individuals that drives PHMC and the IBC Foundation,” says Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the IBC Foundation.
“We are excited about the results of this analysis and the opportunities it will bring to improve access to quality care for more people in our region.”
Through IBC Foundation’s Blue Safety Net grants, 34 private, nonprofit health clinics in Pennsylvania received more than $2 million dollars in 2011, funds that help serve uninsured Pennsylvanians.
The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is bringing its Healthy Futures program to 20 area elementary schools.
The $2.7 million, three-year initiative focuses on improving child wellness. Schools participating in the Healthy Futures will receive innovative tools and resources to help children eat right, get fit and stay well — the initiative’s three core components.
To bring strong nutrition, fitness, and wellness support to each school, the IBC Foundation has partnered with expert regional and national leaders, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Union, The Vetri Foundation for Children, Greener Partners, Fit Essentials, Villanova University Center for Obesity Prevention and Education and InnerLink, Health eTools for Schools.
“It takes a village to keep a child healthy. That’s why the Independence Blue Cross Foundation has brought together the best of the best for this initiative,” Lorina Marshall-Blake, IBC foundation president, said.
“Healthy Futures is unique. While most programs focus just on fitness or nutrition, Healthy Futures takes a comprehensive approach to address not only these two critical components of childhood wellness, but also prevention. We believe that this 360-degree view will make a meaningful and measurable difference in child wellness.”
The program includes the Eat Right, Get Fit and Get Well components.
With the Eat Right component, the Vetri Foundation will bring its “Eatiquette” program to five schools. Eatiquette equips schools to prepare and serve nutritious meals to children, and educates students and parents on the importance of nutrition. Greener Partners’ health educators will bring the Seed to Snack program and a hands-on mobile farm to classrooms to improve student attitudes about fruits and vegetables.
With Get Fit, the Philadelphia Union soccer team will implement school fitness programs, bringing coaches and players to schools for hands-on training and motivation. Fit Essentials will provide personalized school exercise classes enhanced with at-home routines.
For the Stay Well component, CHOP nurses will visit schools in record child wellness metrics, improve health screening rates and ensure students are given resources to maintain good health.
The foundation will conduct a three-year study tracking changes in indicators such as body mass index, prevalence of chronic disease — diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. — nutritional awareness and compliance with mandatory screenings to measure the results of the program. The study’s findings will help IBC Foundation and its partners shape recommendations for future child wellness initiatives as well as replicating the Healthy Futures program in other regions.
“We are thrilled to be one of the first schools to participate in Healthy Futures and to build upon the health and wellness efforts we’ve implemented over the past few years,” said Dr. Naomi Johnson Booker, CEO at Global Leadership Academy Charter School, which hosted an event with the IBC Foundation to showcase the Stay Well component of the program with CHOP.
“As both educators and community members, we care about the futures of our students, so working with the IBC Foundation and its partners to ensure those futures are brighter, happier, and healthier is a great honor.”
The IBC Foundation is working with the following Philadelphia schools: F. Amedee Bregy Elementary School, Global Leadership Academy, LaSalle Academy, St. Martin de Porres School, William M. Meredith Elementary School and William H. Zeigler Elementary School; Montgomery County schools — Jenkintown Elementary School, St. Francis of Assisi School and St. Joseph the Protector School and Delaware County schools — Bell Avenue Elementary School, Drexel Neumann Academy, Media Elementary School, Park Lane Elementary School and Stetser Elementary School.
The foundation is also working with the following schools in Chester County, Assumption BVM School, St. Agnes School and St. Elizabeth Parish School and these schools in Bucks County, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School and Cornwells Elementary School.
The foundation was founded in 2011 by Independence Blue Cross, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
This week served to mark the essential contributions made by nurses throughout the healthcare arena.
National Nurses Week, which is observed May 6-12, comes at a time when the nurses are slated to play a critical role in health reform.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on keeping people healthy, preventing illness and managing chronic conditions opens new opportunities for nurses to shape and lead the future delivery of healthcare.
“The Obama administration is committed to workforce development and education and training for nurses. Through the Affordable Care Act, the number of training and educational opportunities for nursing students and graduates to acquire the skills necessary to enter the health workforce is expanding,” Sebelius said.
“Through the Advanced Nursing Education Program, the law provides support for advanced nursing education to increase the primary care nursing workforce. Through several different advanced nursing education initiatives, an additional 2,800 nurse practitioners and nurse midwives will enter the primary care workforce over the next five years.”
The HHS department has made significant investments in building the nursing workforce through scholarship and loan repayment programs. For instance, the National Health Services Corps, which offers scholarship and loan repayment in return for practice in underserved areas has tripled from 3,600 in 2008 to nearly 10,000 in 2012, including more than 1,600 nurses.
The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program, which has approximately 3,000 registered nurses and advanced practice nurses, helped to repay the loans of more than 700 nurses in fiscal year 2012.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the nation will need 1.2 million more nurses by 2020. In an effort to help boost the nursing workforce ranks, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation has been funding nursing education for the past 10 years. Under its “Nursing for Tomorrow” initiative, IBC and the IBC Foundation provided more than $10 million in funding to support nursing education. Approximately $7 million of that funding supported more than 1,100 scholarships for students attending schools such as University of Pennsylvania, Community College of Philadelphia, Temple University and Thomas Jefferson University.
The IBC Foundation believes that providing accessible affordable care in the communities will require an increase in the current number of licensed practice nurses, nursing educators and advanced practice nurses.
“We’ve made a committment to nursing and it really has become a cornerstone of who we are,” said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the IBC Foundation.
“If you look at all that is going on in health care reform right now nurses are on the front line, so we feel that it’s a major investment for us to invest in nursing and making sure that there is a qualified workforce that’s out there.”
The foundation is also working to increase the number of nursing educators. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) report on 2011-2012 Enrollment and Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing notes that U.S. nursing schools turned away 75,587 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2011 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space and budget constraints. Almost two thirds of the nursing schools cited faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into entry-level baccalaureate programs.