NEARLY 2,000 FAMILIES AFFECTED BY COVID-19 RECEIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Louisiana Healthcare Connections partners with 20 community organizations to distribute gift cards across the state

Baton Rouge, La. (June 23, 2020) – As COVID-19 continues to negatively affect families and individuals across the state, one Healthy Louisiana Medicaid health plan has stepped up to provide some much-needed support.

Louisiana Healthcare Connections has partnered with 20 community-based organizations to distribute 1,900 pre-paid gift cards to families and individuals who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. The gift cards enable these families to purchase food, cleaning and personal hygiene items at Walmart and Amazon.

“During this epidemic, through our community partners, we have learned that these items are a critical need for families across the state,” said Chelsea Graves, Community Relations Principal for Louisiana Healthcare Connections. “Our state has been extremely responsive by streamlining and increasing access to healthcare, unemployment and SNAP benefits, but these programs do not cover personal items or cleaning supplies. This gift card program addresses that gap for the families who need it most.”

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the program has provided relief for 350 households, and the response has been one of overwhelming gratitude, according to Baton Rouge Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis (District 6).

“Needless to say, during this difficult time, families are having to make many adjustments, and the needs are greater than ever before,” said Collins Lewis, on behalf of YWCA of Greater Baton Rouge. “Many families are receiving SNAP benefits, but as we know, that program does not allow for the purchase of toiletry and other personal items that are so greatly needed right now, especially with families having to be at home all day. We are so grateful to Louisiana Healthcare Connections for recognizing this need and for their continued commitment to our community. Our families are deeply appreciative of the work they do in our city.”

Those sentiments were echoed by New Orleans Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen (District E). Five hundred of the gift cards were provided to New Orleans residents who demonstrated need.

Speaking on behalf of Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training (VIET), one of the non-profit organizations working to distribute the gift cards, Nguyen said, “While families are struggling with the unknown healthcare issues related to the coronavirus, these gift cards have provided a sense of comfort and relief that they can take care of their basic needs. I applaud Louisiana Healthcare Connections for investing in our most vulnerable families during this time of crisis.”

The crisis has also been particularly difficult for residents of North Louisiana, making the gift cards a welcome offering to 500 families in parishes along the I-20 corridor. From its offices in Shreveport, Monroe and Alexandria, New Horizons Independent Living is one of the organizations that has been distributing the cards to client families in need, according to Gale Dean, LCSW, Executive Director.

“This unprecedented epidemic truly requires all of us working together to address the challenges faced by local families,” noted Dean. “We are fortunate to have partners like Louisiana Healthcare Connections that share our commitment to helping families affected by COVID-19 to get the resources and services they need, when they need it most.”

Similarly, in Lake Charles, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt across the community, but have been especially difficult for those with disabilities and their families, said Susan Riehn, Executive Director of Families Helping Families of Southwest Louisiana.

“We are so happy to be able to help individuals with disabilities and their families by providing them with these gift cards,” said Riehn. “We’ve had so many families call to thank us for this support; they are so very appreciative of what Louisiana Healthcare Connections is doing.”

Other organizations currently distributing the gift cards on behalf of Louisiana Healthcare Connections include:

· Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – GNO/ABO Charitable & Educational Foundation of New Orleans
· Children’s Coalition of Monroe
· Acadia Council on Aging in Crowley
· Families Helping Families of Shreveport
· Family Promise of St. Tammany in Slidell
· Family Strong Foundation of Lafayette
· Greater St. Luke Church in Baton Rouge
· HOPE Ministries of Baton Rouge
· Livingston Parish Council on Aging in Denham Springs
· L.O.V.E. Community of DeQuincy
· Novare Foundation in Monroe
· Ouachita Parish Council on Aging in Monroe
· YMCA in Bogalusa
· YWCA of Northwest Louisiana in Shreveport
· The Extra Mile in Alexandria
· Total Community Action in New Orleans

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to our state, and as part of our mission to transform health in Louisiana, we are committed to partnering with community organizations and healthcare providers to address those challenges,” said Jamie Schlottman, CEO and Plan President of Louisiana Healthcare Connections. “We are very appreciative of all our community partners for helping us to get this support to the families and individuals who need it most.”

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