Florida Blue Foundation Recognizes Several South Florida Organizations
A former Miami Heat star, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and two local nonprofit health centers are finalists for the Florida Blue Foundation’s prestigious Sapphire Awards to recognize excellence in community health care. The awards are part of the Foundation’s annual Community Health Symposium, taking place in Orlando 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 Sapphire Award winners at a dinner on May 9.
NBA Hall of Famer and former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning is a Sapphire Award individual finalist for his outstanding contributions to improving the health and condition of children and their families in Miami. The Mourning Family Foundation has raised more than $20 million for various programs that aid in their empowerment and development. In addition to supporting numerous health initiatives, Mourning opened the Overtown Youth Center in Miami’s historic Overtown with the help of community donors to deliver enrichment services to inner-city youth and their families. In 2003, Mourning underwent a successful kidney transplant and spearheaded the Zo’s Fund for Life campaign, which raised $2 million to support kidney disease research and treatment. He was also a leading advocate for the passage of a new state law offering qualified individuals guaranteed enrollment in Medicare and he has served as the spokesperson for the American Kidney Foundation.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has played a vital role in molding a healthier environment for the students and staff of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, for which he also has been selected as one of three Sapphire Award finalists in the individual category. His achievements in improving health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of Florida children are rooted in his commitment to the development of the whole child, as well as the improvement in the quality of life for the students and staff. Carvalho has intentionally incorporated health and nutrition into the district’s curriculum to create a more comprehensive health culture. Under his leadership, the Common Threads Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Education programming has been in M-DCPS for nine years.
Miami Beach Community Health Center is a finalist in the organizational category. MBCHC works with a predominantly Hispanic, female, low-income population. MBCHC has significantly improved access to health care both in number of patients served and services offered. Since 2012, it has doubled its patients served to 48,000 annually. The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded MBCHC the most quality awards (6) in 2018 of any community health center in Florida, tying it for second place nationally out of 1,400 health centers. New services offered since 2012 include nutrition counseling, optometry and ophthalmology, and Medication Assisted Treatment for those with opioid use disorder. It also offers behavioral health and dental health providers. Measurable health improvements have been seen in diabetes cases, cervical cancer screening, prenatal health and colorectal cancer screening.
Also nominated for an organizational Sapphire Award is the Sundari Foundation-Lotus House. Since 2006, it has served women, youth and children who are experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade County, and provided a safe and supportive shelter and service environment. Access to housing, physical and mental health assessments, primary care, referrals, prescriptions, eye glasses, dental care, mental health counseling, high nutrition meals, alternative healing programs, health education, employment training and assistance with permanent housing placement are provided, along with many other services. Lotus House shelters 500 women and children daily, and more than 1,000 annually.
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 Consultant 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.