BCN joins Hospice of Michigan to bring ‘Ernie’ the play to Grand Rapids

Residents of West Michigan will get a chance to see the hit play “Ernie,” celebrating the life of legendary Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, when it makes a two-week run in September as a special fundraiser at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids.

The play, by noted sportswriter, radio host and bestselling author Mitch Albom, will run for 12 performances Sept. 12-23. Proceeds benefit Hospice of Michigan’s Open Access Program, which provides care to people living with a terminal illness and need help, regardless of age, diagnosis or ability to pay.

Blue Care Network is signing on as presenting sponsor for the play as it makes its West Michigan debut, continuing the Blues’ long-running support for the play. “Ernie” made its world debut at Detroit’s City Theater in June 2011 and is currently enjoying an encore presentation that wraps up July 29, with BCBSM once again as presenting sponsor.

The play features audio and video of many famous Harwell calls and historic Tigers games, plus insight into Harwell’s personality and rich personal life gleaned by Albom over the years he got to know the man known affectionately as the “Voice of Summer.”

After he retired from broadcasting, Harwell served as a walking advocate and spokesman for the Blues. He died in 2010 at age 92.

For more information about the play, visit Mitch Albom’s website, or read the news release. Ticket information will be available at Hospice of Michigan’s website.

Winners Announced as Blue Cross’ Win by Losing Competition Completes its Sixth Round

Participants in the first six rounds of Win By Losing have lost the equivalent weight of three elephants.

Since fall of 2009, the Win by Losing weight-loss challenge has proven to be an effective and life-changing program for BCBSM members who participate. Throughout the six rounds held to date, participants from Blue Cross customer groups across the state have collectively lost more than 40,000 pounds — the weight equivalent of three elephants.

In round six, teams lost more than 11,300 pounds. TGI Direct, last year’s back-to-back winner, once again earned their bragging rights and this year, a few new companies earned theirs. Round six winners are:

Throughout this nine-week program, Blue Cross provides participating groups with weekly motivation via email and free tools on bcbsm.com/yourhealth that are available for anyone’s use. Tools include wellness videos, meal plans, diet and exercise tips, and much more.

Round seven kicks off in August 2012. Visit bcbsm.com/yourhealth or email winbylosing@bcbsm.com for more information.

Photo by brittanyhock

Downtown Detroit Businesses Partner in Project Lighthouse to Help Ensure Safety to All Who Visit the City

Banners indicate Project Lighthouse locations that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

As more of our employees begin working in downtown Detroit, the changes to the city’s skyline are readily apparent. The company logo at the top of Tower 500 and the new façade of the building is a symbol that approximately 6,000 BCBSM employees are now working in downtown Detroit. Our Jefferson Avenue building has been given a 21st-century facelift to help accommodate the influx of Blues employees.

For those city enthusiasts who want to work and live in downtown Detroit, the Live Downtown incentives provide the financial backing needed to make that move. And they will be greeted by improved public lighting in the Central Business District of Detroit.

Still, safety is a concern for many visitors to downtown, which is why we are proud to participate in an innovative new program called Project Lighthouse. The premise for the program is simple: If you’re lost, having a safety concern or vehicle trouble, look for one of the 30 downtown businesses that display the Project Lighthouse banner. Those businesses have volunteered to be safe havens for those in need. And, if you can’t find a banner, call 313-471-6490.

“This creates a neighborhood feel for downtown Detroit and shows what is possible for Detroit. It creates a different environment and feel. This is the kind of community we are building,” said Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee in Dig Downtown Detroit.

Tip: add Project Lighthouse to your mobile phone contacts: 313-471-6490

Project Lighthouse is not a replacement for 9-1-1 for emergency situations, but gives local businesses a way to help ensure that downtown Detroit is a safe place to work, live and play.

Photo by Dig Downtown Detroit

Blues on the Radio: Month-Long Spotlight on Revitalizing Michigan Cities in May

In May, The Healthier Michigan Radio Show that airs on radio stations throughout the state will focus on all of the exciting developments happening in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids that are helping to revitalize the state. Program host Ann Thomas will speak with:

  • Dan Loepp, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about the investments made by the Blues to help boost Detroit’s economy
  • Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corporation, about the many ways that metro Detroit and Michigan will benefit from the return of the Detroit Grand Prix
  • Tricia Keith, vice president, corporate secretary and services of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about why rebuildingDetroit is such an important mission for the Blues and its employees
  • Jeff Connolly, president for West Michigan Operations and Managed Care at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about how the Blues support West Michigan through various local partnerships and opportunities

The hour-long show is available online or as a podcast and is scheduled to air at the following times on the following stations:

  • WJR-AM in Detroit – 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 1
  • WJIM-AM in Lansing – 7-8 p.m. May 1
  • WOOD-AM in Grand Rapids – 9-10 p.m. Sunday, May 6
  • WTCM-FM in Traverse City – 9-10 p.m. Monday, May 14
  • WATZ-AM in Alpena – 11-11:45 a.m. Wednesday, May 23

WOOD Radio

If you live on Michigan’s west side, listen for Connolly on his regular Tuesday segment with WOOD host Steve Kelly. Connolly will discuss topics including the Blues’ Body & Soul walking challenge. This initiative brings African-American churches together in the area to compete for wellness grants. Other topics include the Collaborative Quality Initiatives (CQI) under way with Michigan hospitals to improve health care quality while lowering costs, and the role of free clinics for the uninsured.

Tigers Radio

Finally, Andrew Hetzel, BCBSM’s vice president of Corporate Communications, joins Dan Dickerson each Sunday throughout the month on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. This month Hetzel will discuss National Nurses Week, Employee Health & Fitness Month, the Blues’ partnership with Michigan doctors and hospitals to lower health care costs and improve quality, and the Healthy Blue Xtras member program that provides special discounts to Michigan Blue Cross members at retailers throughout the state.

Photo by MeijerGardens

Program Gets African American Churches to Compete ‘Body & Soul’ For Better Health

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the American Cancer Society are teaming up with churches around the state to improve the health of African Americans. Churches in Grand Rapids, Flint, and southeast Michigan are taking a stand and consciously choosing a healthier lifestyle by competing in Body & Soul and the Blues Community Challenge.

Body & Soul is a health program developed by the American Cancer Society specifically for African-American churches. The program empowers church members to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables by providing resources, education and information about nutrition and other healthy lifestyle habits.

Circles of Influence

The program recognizes the powerful role of the church in black communities.

“The African-American church is one of the most (if not the most) trusted institution in the African-American community,” said the Rev. Dallas Lenear of New Hope Baptist Church in Grand Rapids. “Inspiration and information from pastors and church leaders are generally well-received. When local pastors join forces around a common goal, the entire community takes notice.”

African Americans have their own set of challenges with chronic diseases and health disparities:

  • Roughly 40 percent of African American men in Michigan will not live past their 65th birthday.
  • African American women are more likely to die from heart disease than women of other races.
  • African Americans of both genders are much more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.

BCBSM provides the physical activity component of the program through an online tool that helps participants log how many minutes of exercise they’re getting each day, with the minutes then translated into mileage. The churches whose members log the most walking miles by the end of the challenge are awarded grant money to support health ministry efforts.

“We are working with our community partners to identify and address health disparities,” said Bridget Hurd, director of Community Responsibility for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “We find it is most effective to work with organizations that are already involved in the community and recognized as leaders and decision-makers; this helps us in our efforts to improve the health status of Michigan residents in communities throughout the state.”

It Takes a Village

The goal is to empower people to take personal responsibility for their health.

“I just jumped on board because I needed to lose some weight,” said Lynn Gleton, a participant of Body & Soul and the Blues’ Challenge in Detroit last year. “That was the driving force, and then I found out I have high blood pressure, so I am trying to do some things to lower my blood pressure. That’s why I was excited about the walking part of the program.”

With the U.S. spending more than ever on chronic disease like those listed above, every step counts. The Blues’ Community Challenge gives members from churches that are participating in American Cancer Society’s Body & Soul program an extra incentive to get moving. Challenges begin at churches in the following three communities:

  • Southeast Michigan: May 6- July 28
  • Grand Rapids: May 5 – July 28
  • Flint: August – October

Learn more about the ACS Body & Soul program at Cancer.org/bodyandsoul. Or check out a video about last year’s program, below.


 

Lansing-Area Communities Share $10,000 in Wellness Grants After Record Blues’ Community Challenge

Lynda Hyde, left, shares her story with BCBSM walking advocate Jodi Davis at the Blues' Community Challenge and Winter Warm-Up recognition event in Lansing.

With a boost from the Blues, participants in the Winter Warm-Up and Blues’ Community Challenge took a few walks around the Earth this winter — and never left the Lansing area to do it. 

The occasion was a free eight-week walking and physical activity competition between nine Greater Lansing communities. Together, nearly 2,400 participants logged an astounding 208,862 miles — the equivalent of more than eight trips around the Earth’s equator. Teams from each of the nine communities competed by signing up community members to log their physical activity.

The competing communities benefitted by taking home grant awards from BCBSM totaling almost $10,000, including $3,000 to the winning city of Lansing. The money is used to support public health and wellness projects within each community, such as bike trails, playground equipment, park benches and recreational splash pads.

Here are the other winning communities:

  • City of Charlotte — $2,000
  • Delhi Township — $1,000
  • City of East Lansing — $750
  • Delta Township — $750
  • City of St. Johns — $750
  • City of Grand Ledge — $500
  • Lansing Township — $500
  • City of Williamston — $500

Encouraging Signs

The Winter Warm-up and the Blues Community Challenge are hopeful signs that more people are embracing fitness and physical activity as a way to achieve good health. We saw a 40 percent leap in the number of residents actively participating in this year’s Blues’ Community Challenge and Winter Warm-Up.

Lynda Hyde from St. Johns tearfully shared her story at the celebration event March 10. When she first registered, she could not walk for more than three or four minutes or finish the indoor course at the Lansing Mall.

She is now walking 15 to 17 minutes a day and can walk in a swimming pool for up to an hour. She no longer needs a cane and is motivated to continue exercising.

“It’s amazing how everything just seemed to line up, how each piece just fell into place,” Hyde said. “I feel like it is just meant to happen at this time in my life. It is now the time for me to lose weight.”

With the help of groups such as Community Health Partners, a nonprofit coalition of Lansing-area organizations dedicated to making mid-Michigan a healthy place to live, the Blues will continue to work hard to create active, healthy communities across the state. These efforts improve health status and control health care costs for everyone in the long run.

BluesWeek: Employees Begin Relocating to RenCen Tower 600 in Detroit

The Blues have begun moving employees into renovated offices in Tower 600 of the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. The first 281 employees moved into newly renovated offices in Tower 600 earlier this week, and another 306 will arrive Monday from Southfield. Blue Cross’ downtown Detroit campus will have more than 6,000 employees when the final moves wrap up this summer.

The submission period for the “Make the Play for Healthy Habits” kid video contest is now closed, with dozens of entries submitted from across the state. Readers can vote for their favorite finalists for two weeks starting April 11 on A Healthier Michigan. The winner, to be announced in early May, gets a school assembly with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and an opportunity to be a featured guest blogger.

Grace Derocha, a blogger on A Healthier Michigan and Blue Cross registered dietitian, takes her portion-control suitcase to the airwaves Friday to talk serving sizes and how to “live green” with fruits and vegetables. She touts health benefits including reduced blood pressure, weight loss and maintenance and more on Fox 2 News Friday during the 10 a.m. hour.

The April installment of The Healthier Michigan Radio Show examines the simple yet effective health benefits of walking. Host Ann Thomas interviews guests Jodi Davis, BCBSM’s walking advocate and blogger, and Blues health coach and blogger Angela Jenkins. The episode airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 on both WJR-AM and WJIM-AM in Lansing. It’s also available for listening online or as a podcast.

In Case You Missed It…

BCBSM is sponsoring an encore season of “Ernie” the play May 3 through July 28 at City Theater in Detroit. Written by media personality Mitch Albom, the play celebrates the life of legendary former Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who also served as a health and fitness advocate for the Blues.

BluesWeek is a weekly snapshot of initiatives, events and other newsworthy tidbits under way at BCBSM.

Photo by tukanuk

BluesWeek: 2012 Blues’ Community Challenge Kicks Off in Grand Rapids With Body & Soul

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is teaming with the American Cancer Society to kick off the 2012 Blues’ Community Challenge Saturday, March 17 in Grand Rapids with Body & Soul. The Body & Soul challenge engages the African-American faith community in a 10-week wellness and nutrition initiative, with the winning churches to receive financial grants to support health ministry programs.

BCBSM awarded nearly $10,000 worth of wellness grants to the nine Lansing-area municipalities that participated in the Winter Warm-Up and Blues Community Challenge. There was a huge jump in the number of resident participants this year, with nearly 2,400 participants logging a record 208,862 miles during the eight-week walking and physical activity competition. Watch for a news release to go out Thursday.

National Nutrition Month collides with St. Patrick’s Day as the color green takes over. But instead of green beer, registered dietitian Grace Derocha will be offering tips on how to incorporate the color green for good health in your St. Patrick’s food on A Healthier Michigan and through media availabilities.

It may seem like spring has sprung early in Michigan, but there are Polar Plunge events taking place Saturday, March 17 in Kalamazoo and Marquette benefiting Special Olympics Michigan. Blue Cross is sponsoring Special Olympics Michigan’s Healthy Athletes Program.

In case you missed it…

As part of Patient Safety Awareness Week, A Healthier Michigan offered a pair of printable reminder cards to help prevent avoidable medication errors. The cards fit easily into any billfold and offer tips for what to ask a doctor who prescribes medications as well as a place to jot down which medications you’re currently taking.

The deadline is approaching for the “Make the Play for Healthy Habits” kid video contest on A Healthier Michigan. Children in grades 4 through 8 can submit a video showing how they would make Michigan healthier through March 25. The public gets to vote on the final 10 contestants to choose the lucky winner. The winning student will receive  a school assembly visit from Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and an opportunity to guest blog on A Healthier Michigan.

BluesWeek is a weekly snapshot of initiatives, events and other newsworthy tidbits under way at BCBSM.

Photo by New Orleans Lady

BluesWeek: Helping Health Care Consumers Benefit from Patient Safety Awareness Week

Starting today, we’ll be publishing BluesWeek, a weekly snapshot of initiatives, events and other newsworthy items, here on Blues Perspectives. It previously was an email advisory sent mostly to news media.

March 4-10 is Patient Safety Awareness Week, and the Blues will be spotlighting the issue with a series of blog posts featuring helpful tips and other resources for patients. Watch for posts here and on A Healthier Michigan on topics like things health care consumers can do to stay safe.

BCBSM is offering tips for how to “Get Your Plate in Shape” and make good food choices during National Nutrition Month. Registered dietitian Grace Derocha has simple suggestions available to help take the complexity out of nutrition. Occasional blog posts exploring the theme will also appear on A Healthier Michigan.

The Blues Community Challenge wraps up Saturday, March 10 in Lansing. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will award grants to the nine participating Lansing-area communities to support public health and wellness. The ceremony takes place at 9 a.m. at the Lansing Mall and includes health screenings, health and wellness displays, a celebratory walk through the mall and more.

There are two more Polar Plunge events taking place March 17 — one in Kalamazoo and another in Marquette. Participants jump into frigid waters to benefit Special Olympics Michigan. Blue Cross is encouraging employees and others to participate as part of a yearlong sponsorship of Special Olympics Michigan’s Healthy Athletes Program.

In case you missed it…

The March installment of the Healthier Michigan Radio Show takes an in-depth look at efforts to transform health care in Michigan. Joining host Ann Thomas were Dr. Jean Malouin, co-chair of the Michigan Primary Care Transformation project; Dr. Gina Buccalo, chief medical officer at St. John Providence Partners in Care; Dr. Kim Coleman, a Bloomfield Hills pediatrician who is part of the Blues’ Patient-Centered Medical Home program; and Marianne Udow, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation. You can still catch the show Sunday, March 11 at 9 p.m. on WOOD-AM in Grand Rapids, or download a podcast version or listen online here.

There are just a few short weeks remaining in the “Make the Play for Healthy Habits” kid video contest on A Healthier Michigan. Children in grades 4 through 8 have through March 25 to upload a video that creatively demonstrates their ideas to make Michigan healthier. The public will have the opportunity to vote on the final 10 contestants, and the winner gets a school assembly visit from Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and an opportunity to guest blog on A Healthier Michigan.

Photo by UMHealthSystem