Monday, April 13, 2020
PITTSBURGH (April 13, 2020) — Due to the increased need for access to social service resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Gateway Health are implementing an online social care network, Aunt Bertha, which serves as a referral tool for urgent needs. Aunt Bertha connects people to resources that can assist with addressing needs such as food, housing and transportation, and is available to all members and patients served across Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and nationally.
"At this critical time, we understood the importance of fast-tracking our implementation of the Aunt Bertha tool," said Dan Onorato, executive vice president, Highmark Health. "Connecting those in need of food, housing and other resources to social service agencies that can address those needs is a priority for Highmark."
According to Onorato, the organizations have been working to launch Aunt Bertha but accelerated the process because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent social needs of the community. Thousands of nonprofits and social care providers serve their communities, but for many, navigating the system to get help can be difficult, time consuming and frustrating, especially during a time of heightened confusion and stress. Aunt Bertha allows users to find nearby community benefit organizations (CBOs) — making it easier for people to access social services in their neighborhoods, for nonprofits to coordinate their efforts, and for healthcare providers to integrate social care into their work.
The Aunt Bertha directory contains geographic-specific information on social service agencies and CBOs across the United States. COVID-19 specific resources also will be listed on the Aunt Bertha site. Once a zip code is entered, online users can filter for specific needs. There are no income restraints or financial cost to use Aunt Bertha. In addition to public access, providers, social workers and care coordinators across the Highmark, AHN and Gateway Health enterprise can access information and recommend services.
"Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we're seeing people all across the country join together to help their neighbors navigate this stressful time," said Aunt Bertha Founder and CEO Erine Gray. "We're honored to be partnering with the teams at Highmark, AHN and Gateway Health, and we continue to be impressed with their innovative approaches to helping their members and patients."
Aunt Bertha can be accessed by visiting the Medical and Community Resources page at HighmarkAnswers.com, AHN.org/coronavirus or GatewayHealthPlan.com/coronavirus. These pages will also provide a multitude of COVID-19 response information.
The Aunt Bertha initiative is one of many led by Highmark's social determinants of health (SDOH) task force. While SDOH is considered a relatively new term, Highmark has been addressing social needs that are barriers to good health for decades. In the last five years alone, Highmark has committed nearly half a billion dollars in SDOH-related initiatives, including strategic community partnerships, workforce and economic development and access to care. Most recently, Highmark announced $2 million in grants to organizations focused on helping people in need across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of America's leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. (the Health Plan) and its affiliated health plans (collectively, the Health Plans) work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. As the fourth-largest overall Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of more than 5.2 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 12 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women's health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Gateway Health is a leading managed care organization that believes total health and wellness cannot be attained by simply providing access to health care. In addition to physical health, Gateway Health addresses behavioral health and socioeconomic challenges for members in 37 Pennsylvania counties. Gateway Health's associates focus on enhancing the lives of plan members through innovative care models and tailored approaches to health management, delivered in partnership with a robust network of more than 29,000 primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, and other ancillary providers. Gateway Health is also embedded in neighborhoods, providing meaningful programs and outreach to the community at-large.
Aunt Bertha's mission is to connect all people in need and the programs that serve them with dignity and ease. Beyond its core search functionality, the company delivers enterprise solutions for identifying social needs, targeting interventions, "closing the loop" on social care referrals, and delivering rich reporting. The company serves more than 175 customers across the United States, ranging from healthcare systems, payers, higher education, housing developments, and more. For more information, visit www.auntbertha.com.
For more information, contact:
Highmark Inc. and AHN
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Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield serves the 29 counties of western Pennsylvania and 13 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania. Highmark Blue Shield serves the 21 counties of central Pennsylvania and also provides services in conjunction with a separate health plan in southeastern Pennsylvania. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia serves the state of West Virginia plus Washington County. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware serves the state of Delaware. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York serves eight counties in Western New York and Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York serves 13 counties in Northeastern New York. Each of these companies is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Blue Cross, Blue Shield and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.
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