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Excellus selects nine CNY nonprofits for community health awards

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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Rochester–based Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, which operates an office in DeWitt, has announced the nine Central New York recipients of its annual community health awards. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ file photo)

DeWITT, N.Y. — Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (Excellus) has chosen nine organizations for the community health awards it made available in upstate New York earlier this year.

Excellus awarded each recipient up to $4,000 to help pay for health and wellness programs in the health insurer’s five-county, Central New York region.

More than 40 Central New York nonprofits had submitted applications, per an Excellus news release.

Through a competitive application process, Excellus’s community health awards support programs that have “clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population.”

Awards focus on improving the health status of the community, reducing the incidence of specific diseases, promoting health education, and enhancing overall wellness. Winning organizations are selected based on the proposed program’s scope of need, goals, and the number of people expected to benefit from it.

Recipients

Auburn Memorial Medical Services plans to purchase lead-testing kits for two pediatric practices in Auburn. The lead-testing kits will increase the number of children who are tested for lead exposure and poisoning in Cayuga County.

Loretto/PACE CNY, of Syracuse, plans to provide multisensory interventions such as auto-locking glider chairs; ambient lighting; play therapy; ultraviolet light therapy; and add a “large mobile raised garden bed component to Loretto’s multisensory environment” for people who have dementia, cognitive impairment, and other special needs. In collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s master gardeners, Loretto will introduce horticulture therapy to “enhance quality of life among participants.”

Onondaga County Health Department plans to purchase a blood lead-testing analyzer device and testing supplies that will be used by staff in its lead poisoning prevention program staff in a clinic that serves high-risk children.

REACH CNY, of Syracuse, will use its funding to purchase toddler mattresses and bed frames as an incentive for “high-risk” women who are parenting 1- to 3-year-old toddlers in Oswego County to participate in community health-worker programming. The programming will screen for and provide education and referrals to basic health services, including adult primary care; pediatrician/well-child visits, dental care, and family-planning services.

Rescue Mission, of Syracuse, will purchase 50 pairs of puncture-resistant gloves used for sharps disposal and also to purchase and install an automated external defibrillator at the Rescue Mission’s new runaway and homeless-youth shelter.

Seven Valleys Health Coalition, of Cortland, plans to use its funding to revamp the organization’s “Get Cortland cooking healthy” classes, a series of five free cooking classes that are open to the public. The classes teach residents how to access and prepare healthy foods and focus on preparing healthy, tasty, and easy recipes that incorporate produce.

Help Me Grow Onondaga/United Way of Central New York, of Syracuse, will offer a series of five developmental screening and education events for parents and caregivers via online platforms and at public libraries. Participants of the Books, Balls and Blocks events will receive age appropriate “Help Me Grow” tote bags that will be delivered to their doors or in person. They will feature developmentally appropriate toys, along with directions and ideas for parents to continue playing with their children in their home environments.

The Upstate Foundation, of Syracuse, will provide medications, dental and eye care, walkers, socks, boots, personal care items and other emergent supplies for Upstate Medical University’s “Housecalls for the Homeless” street medicine program. The program delivers medical, psychiatric, and addiction-care safety net services for men and women experiencing homelessness in Syracuse.

The recipients also include the Brady Faith Center, of Syracuse, which sought funding for the Southside Wellness Ambassador program that provides wellness education and meals on Syracuse’s Southside. Wellness ambassadors help neighbors of Brady Farm at 150 Ford Ave. in Syracuse to “increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,” per the news release. The ambassadors deliver food to families and then “having them join online to take part in a cooking session with the delivered ingredients.”