CHRISTUS Health pledged to support and promote Cover the Uninsured Week, a nonpartisan, nationwide effort to urge U.S. leaders to make health coverage for Americans a top priority, held March 22-28. Now in its seventh year, Cover the Uninsured Week is a national effort to highlight the fact that too many Americans are living in a precarious position without the “safety net” of health insurance.
CHRISTUS’ commitment to providing coverage for the uninsured is based on our Catholic heritage, commitment to social justice and our mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to everyone.
It is estimated that 18,000 - 22,000 Americans die each year because they don't have health coverage. While extending coverage to all will be a tremendous undertaking, it is imperative that the effort to get all Americans covered begins now.
CHRISTUS Health works daily to serve the uninsured. CHRISTUS is the number one Catholic health care system in providing community benefit, and CHRISTUS facilities and programs also offer discounts to the uninsured and underinsured who qualify.
Living without health coverage is a growing problem that touches many working families. That is why it is so important for CHRISTUS Health and the communities we serve to come together to demand that our lawmakers continue to work to find solutions and ensure that all Americans are covered.
Following is a recap of some of the events and activities hosted in our regions in support of Cover the Uninsured Week, the nation’s largest mobilization on behalf of America’s 47 million uninsured.
CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital
On March 20, CHRISTUS St. Patrick launched its Cover The Uninsured Week activities with A Black Tie Affair benefiting the Calcasieu Community Clinic, which provides free ambulatory medical care and pharmaceuticals to the uninsured and underserved. Other activities hosted throughout the week included:
March 24 – Health Fair at the SWLA Center for Health Services with free health screenings and registration of children in the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP), which provides free or low-cost health insurance for children. The event was hosted by several community health agencies, including CHRISTUS St. Patrick School-Based Health Centers, and was promoted with a live remote broadcast by local radio station KZWA
March 25 – CHRISTUS St. Patrick hosted a Cover the Uninsured Community Breakfast with a live remote broadcast by KZWA
March 26 – 27 Free health screenings were provided at the Calcasieu Community Clinic and the CHRISTUS St. Patrick School-Based Health Centers sponsored events at five locations to register children in LaCHIP
CHRISTUS St. John Hospital
On March 25-26, the hospital sponsored a manned booth where passer-bys could pick up information on Cover the Uninsured Week and participate in a variety of give-aways. The booth was put into place for a week-long Spring Fling event planned to celebrate National Hospital Week and National Nurses Week.
CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center
Alex Valdez, CEO for CHRISTUS St. Vincent , announced $410,000 in community gifts to increase access to primary care and prevention services. In addition, the facility included prayers specific to Cover the Uninsured Week during daily chapel services and hosted editorial board meetings with the media which included a focus on the uninsured as a primary topic. On March 20, CHRISTUS St. Vincent held an employee health fair and had representatives of the employees’ health insurance plan on hand to answer questions. In addition, CHRISTUS St. Vincent participated in other employee health fairs to encourage insurance enrollment and joined with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to host Cover the Uninsured Week activities. On a related note, CHRISTUS St. Vincent will participate in Health and Human Services week in April, with proceeds used to increase access to health care services and information.
CHRISTUS Schumpert Health System
CHRISTUS Schumpert’s local Cover the Uninsured Week activities began with a prayer service on March 23 at the Martin Luther King Health Center in Shreveport, which has been providing free health care services for more than 20 years. The service was led by Bonnie Burnett, vice president for Mission Integration at CHRISTUS Schumpert, and Sister Sharon Rambin. Also as part of national Cover the Uninsured Week, CHRISTUS Schumpert and the Department of Health and Hospitals teamed up with Wal-Mart to enroll families for the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP). Other programs and outreach targeting the uninsured and underinsured were offered as well.
CHRISTUS Health Central Louisiana
CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital:
On March 23, elected officials, community leaders, and guests gathered at 10 a.m. in the Outpatient Center of CHRISTUS Saint Frances Cabrini Hospital celebrate the beginning of Cover the Uninsured Week. After an introduction by Stephen F. Wright, CEO of CHRISTUS Health of Central and North Louisiana, Alan Levine, Secretary Louisiana State Department of Health and Hospitals, discussed the state’s efforts to meet the needs of the uninsured.
The hospital also conducted or participated in the following events, all of which were designed to increase enrollment of children in LaCHIP, the State Children’s Insurance Program: a health fair at Carter C. Raymond Middle School on March 23; an outreach by the Medicaid Office in the main hallway of the hospital on March 24; a health fair at Buckeye High School in Deville on March 2; and neighborhood outreach initiatives on March 26-27.
A guest commentary publicizing these events and encouraging more families to enroll in LaCHIP appeared in The Town Talk on March 27.
CHRISTUS Coushatta Health Care Center:
Throughout Cover the Uninsured Week, information on Medicaid, LaCHIP, and a medication assistance program was available in the hospital. In addition, a representative from the Department of Health and Hospitals was available on March 27 to enroll participants in the Kid Med program.