D.C. Federally Qualified Health Centers Receive $200,000 in CareFirst Grants to support COVID-19 Vaccine Adoption

Funds will help support COVID-19 vaccine administration and additional resources for vulnerable communities

Today, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), a not-for-profit and the largest healthcare company in the mid-Atlantic region, announced $200,000 in contributions to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in the District of Columbia. The grants will support FQHCs work administering COVID-19 vaccines for individuals, families and communities throughout the city. This philanthropic contribution is part of CareFirst’s “Better Together” COVID-19 vaccination adoption campaign to help educate and encourage people about the importance of everyone getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The grants build on CareFirst’s previous efforts to help communities break free from the unrelenting grip of the pandemic. All eight D.C. FQHCs will receive COVID-19 relief funding to help with staffing of vaccine administration, personal protective equipment, refrigeration units for vaccine storage and other unanticipated vaccination demands that may arise. Investments will be distributed to Unity Health Care, Mary’s Center, Community of Hope, Bread for the City, Elaine Ellis, La Clínica del Pueblo, Family and Medical Counseling Services, and Whitman Walker.

“FQHCs are essential resources to ensure equitable vaccine access for some of our most vulnerable and at-risk communities,” said Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President, Community Health and Social Impact for CareFirst. “We’re committed to improving the overall health and increasing the accessibility, affordability and safety of care for those who live, work and play in the neighborhoods we serve. As a community champion with headquarters in the District, we remain dedicated to making a difference for not only our members but all who the pandemic has disproportionately impacted. We’re grateful to partner with centers that share our relentless determination to ensure healthcare needs are met during this public health crisis. We are truly better when we act together.”

FQHCs provide healthcare to more than 40% of the District’s publicly insured residents. The centers are a critical component of the healthcare system and provide low or no-cost primary care to underserved and uninsured populations including, but not limited to, individuals experiencing homelessness, low-income individuals, migrant workers and members of marginalized cultural groups. Individuals who receive care at FQHCs are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 due to the types of employment they hold, and many reside in overcrowded or multigenerational housing.

“We’re committed to investing in the communities we serve through our DC Medicaid plan,” said George Aloth, President and CEO of CareFirst Community Health Plan District of Columbia (CHPDC). “By working with and for our neighboring FQHCs, we’ll ensure we’re doing our part to address inequities in vaccine administration in the District. Making the District of Columbia a healthier city is a shared responsibility, and we look forward to holding ourselves accountable for our role in improving health equity on behalf of the DC residents we serve.”

The grants are part of CareFirst’s multi-faceted “Better Together” campaign to urge people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and support public health officials’ work to achieve target vaccination rates that will end the pandemic. Earlier this year, CareFirst released a public health TV ad and launched the Better Together pledge asking its workforce and community organizations to commit to get vaccinated. CareFirst contributions from these pledges currently total over $1.1 million and support vaccination efforts by CASA de Maryland, United Way of the National Capital Area and West Virginia Health Right.