Northwest Arkansas has become one of “the hottest spots” in the United States for the coronavirus.
That’s why the Blue & You Foundation Board of Directors recently approved a $286,000 grant to fund the Northwest Arkansas Council Foundation to help the region’s Hispanic and Marshallese populations.
The Northwest Arkansas Council Foundation, an eligible 501(c)(3) organization, supports the Northwest Arkansas Council, consisting of area chambers of commerce, businesses, healthcare organizations and other stakeholders.
The Hispanic and the Marshallese populations, in particular, are experiencing the hard-hitting impact of COVID-19. The Marshallese are only 3% of the population in Northwest Arkansas, but they account for 50% of the COVID deaths.
This grant will allow the Northwest Arkansas Council Foundation to hire 10 “community health navigators.” Six will be bi-lingual in Spanish and four will be bi-lingual in Marshallese. These social workers and nurses will visit with Hispanic and Marshallese communities, especially in homes and churches, to help residents navigate the healthcare and social services systems.
Foundation has worked to rapidly respond to the needs across the state
“Since the pandemic began, the Blue & You Foundation has worked to rapidly respond to the needs across the state resulting from COVID-19,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation. “Since April, we’ve funded more than $2.4 million to organizations fighting the spread of the virus, but the Northwest Arkansas crisis is a need unlike any challenge our state has experienced thus far. The Blue & You Foundation provides this grant to the Northwest Arkansas Council Foundation with gratitude for their planning and dedication to finding solutions in their region of the state.”
The navigators will explain the importance of self-isolating if a person tests positive for the virus and help them connect with food, medication and a case manager provided by their employer and/or insurer. They will also help connect other family members who may have been exposed to the virus with COVID-19 testing services.
Once authorized by the Arkansas Department of Health, the navigators will assist with contact tracing.
“This is the first part of what we believe will be a much larger effort to address the fast-growing spread of COVID-19 in that part of the state and which will involve many other businesses, foundations, and state agencies,” Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross. “We’re proud that Arkansas Blue Cross and the Blue & You Foundation are taking the lead.”