Central Florida Organizations Honored by Florida Blue Foundation
A telehealth solution to increase access to mental health care and a program that gives away “superhero” prosthetics to needy children join a health advocate with decades of work locally as finalists for the Florida Blue Foundation’s prestigious Sapphire Awards. The awards are part of the Foundation’s annual Community Health Symposium May 9-10 that brings together health advocates from across the country to discuss major health issues. Pat Geraghty, president and CEO of GuideWell and Florida Blue, will announce the winners at a dinner on May 9 emceed by Orlando news anchor Vanessa Echols.
A finalist for the Sapphire Award in the individual category, Angie Romagosa’s work in community health spans 32 years as the founder and leader of the Christian Sharing Center (CSC) in Seminole County, whose services improve the health and well-being of the underprivileged and low-income members of the community. Under Romagosa’s leadership the organization has grown since 1986 to serve 14,000 people in need annually.
Romagosa recognized that the CSC was on the front line of addressing the health problems of its clients and that health issues are often a contributing factor in a client’s hardship. She understood that treating a person’s health is about treating their entire environment, so she shaped case management at the CSC to go beyond handing a family a bag of groceries. Case managers are taught to get to know clients and all of the factors in their instability. As a result, its case managers have helped clients uncover and treat heart problems, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, mental health problems, substance abuse problems and more.
Two local nonprofits are finalists in the Sapphire Awards’ program category.
IMPOWER is a mental health and child well-being organization that serves more than 10,000 people annually. Realizing that many people with mental health conditions lack access to care because of a critical shortage of psychiatrists (particularly for children), transportation barriers and other access issues, IMPOWER created a program in 2013 to utilize telehealth technologies to provide mental health access to low-income and underserved individuals. The program uses real-time video chat between patients and health care providers that allows patients to receive care via a smart phone, computer or tablet. Providers can diagnose issues and recommend or provide treatment, with 24/7 access.
The second local program nominated is University of Central Florida Foundation’s Limbitless Solutions. Established to transform the approach to traditional and cost prohibitive disability technology, the program began with a 3D-printed bionic limb for a young Central Florida boy. The program now creates the prosthetics at a price point under $1,000 and gives them away at no cost to families for children who otherwise would not have access to one.
Creators learned from the first 20 recipients of the prosthetics that the value went beyond the ability to pick things up. They learned that recipients liked to personalize their prosthetics. The creators now theme each arm after characters and artistic designs requested by recipients, like a special Iron Man arm delivered by the real “Tony Stark” character. Student artists and engineers at Limbitless Solutions customize devices to match the children’s personal expression and identity. The program partners with the UCF College of Arts and Humanities to develop video game training systems to teach children to use the multi-flex power of the prosthetics.
About Florida Blue Foundation
Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and rewarding best practices. More than three million people in Florida have received direct health services as a result of grants made to nonprofit organizations since our founding in 2001. Florida Blue Foundation is a trade name of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, Inc., an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
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Toni Woods is a Senior Media Relations Lead for Florida Blue. She has worked in communications for more than 20 years in the health care, energy and sports industries, working with media around the world. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. You can read more about Toni's life as an empty nester here: https://oneanddoneemptynesters.blogspot.com/