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Mayor's Office Heading City Letter Head

March 27, 2002
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Lori Seibel, Community Health Endowment, 436-5516
Joan Anderson, Lancaster County Medical Society, 474-2405
Deb Batten, Aging Services, 441-6156
Bruce Dart, Health Department, 441-8000

Mayor Kicks Off Three Health Initiatives
Efforts include Black Bag Project, prescription booklet and Lincoln's Health Challenge

Mayor Don Wesely today kicked off three new health projects in the community, two aimed at the elderly population and the third targeted at family participation. Mayor Wesely said all three projects are part of the Healthy People 2010 Initiative, a comprehensive approach to improving the overall health of the community.

"These projects were created to meet specific needs in the community," said Wesely. "The Black Bag Project focuses on medical care for the homebound elderly. The prescription booklet gives older adults a guide to the various existing discount prescription drug plans. The goal of Lincoln's Health Challenge is to get entire families involved in wellness activities. With collaborative efforts like these, our community can reach its goal of becoming the healthiest city in the nation."

The Black Bag Project, named for the black bag carried by doctors making house calls, is the first of its kind in the nation. Its goal is to take health care services to homebound elderly persons who are chronically ill and unable to access services. The project uses a team approach, including the services of a physician, physician assistant, public health nurse and geriatric case manager. The physician's recommendations are used to create and implement an individualized long-term care plan.

The Black Bag Project is funded by a matching grant totaling about $850,000 from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Community Health Endowment of Lincoln. Implementation has been led by a partnership of the Lancaster County Medical Society, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the Aging Services LIFE (Lincoln Information For the Elderly) Office with assistance from the Lincoln Medical Education Foundation.

"We are working to increase the quality of life for those facing the tremendous challenges of living with chronic illnesses," said Joan Anderson, Executive Director of the Lancaster County Medical Society. "At the same time, we expect to see fewer emergency room visits, savings in health care resources and costs and financial savings for clients who are able to remain in their homes."

Patient trials began in January 2002. Referrals can be made by primary care physicians by calling 441-8067.

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, New Jersey, is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grant making in four goal areas:
  • To assure that all Americans have access to basic health care at a reasonable cost;
  • To improve care and support for people with chronic health conditions;
  • To promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and
  • To reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse - tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

The Discount Prescription Medication Sources booklet was prepared by the Aging Services LIFE Office. It includes information about new programs being developed by many drug companies, mail order prescription plans, patient assistance programs and foreign pharmacies. Internet addresses and toll-free phone numbers are provided where they are available.

"In the last five years, the prices of the prescription drugs most frequently used by older adults rose an average of 22.2 percent, nearly twice the rate of inflation," said Gina Dunning, Director of Aging Services. "We developed this guide to help those who struggle with health problems and with making ends meet on fixed incomes."

Free copies of the booklet are available by calling Aging Services at 441-7070 or 1-800-247- 0938.

It's Up To You! Lincoln's Health Challenge is a free three-week incentive program sponsored by the Community Health Endowment of Lincoln in cooperation with BryanLGH Health System, St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska.

Between April 7 and 27, families are asked to complete a scorecard of activities, such as checking batteries in smoke detectors, eating a healthy breakfast and flossing their teeth. Those who complete ten of the 15 activities listed are eligible for a random prize drawing. More than 2,500 prizes with a total value of $80,000 will be awarded, including computers, bicycles, a Disney World trip, a Caribbean Cruise, savings bonds, artwork and electronic equipment.

Residents of Lincoln and Lancaster County who are at least 5 years of age can participate. Scorecards are available at the information desk at the County-City Building, 555 South 10th; all Lincoln City Libraries; Russ's Markets; and all Valentino's locations. For more information, contact the Community Health Endowment at 436-5516.

Other partners in Lincoln's Health Challenge are the City of Lincoln; WorkWell; the Lincoln Public Schools; the Ventures in Partnership Program; Ameritas Charitable Foundation; Lincoln Benefit Life Company; Wells Fargo; US Bank; the Lincoln Journal Star and KLKN-TV.

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