CVS’ Project Health is offering an array of free comprehensive health risk assessments and screenings during five national health awareness month with over 1,000 events scheduled for 2012. The nation’s leading retail pharmacy has been offering the wellness program since 2006.

Here, Dawn-Marie Gray, senior marketing manager, multicultural, discusses how the program benefits African American and Latino communities. –yvette caslin

What is your role at CVS?

I am a marketing manager, a member of our retail team and I am focusing on the customer, specifically African American and Hispanic customers, trying to drive their awareness, participation and loyalty for the CVS Pharmacy brand. We want to make sure we have the right products, services and that we’re located in the right communities so they have an opportunity to shop with us. We consider ourselves to be very convenient and accessible. We have expert pharmacists who are available, in some cases, 24/7 to serve our customers with their health care needs.

What does CVS hope that customers gain with the Project Health Initiatives?

It’s really education and awareness. For example, there are 26 million people in the country with diabetes. Thirteen percent are African Americans. Another 79 million people are considered pre-diabetic. There are 7 million who don’t even know they have diabetes. African Americans are two times more likely to develop diabetes. We just want them to be more aware because there are steps they can take if they do have the disease, things they can do to improve their lifestyle, reduce the number of medications they take — it’s preventable and treatable. We want to present ourselves as a resource in the neighborhood to help them with the disease.

What type of outreach are you doing?

Offering free health screenings across 10 of the largest cities in the U.S.— Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as well as Puerto Rico. We’re doing it five months out of the year. We’re leveraging health awareness months. February was American Heart Month. We delivered screenings to about 10,000 customers. We were excited about that. In April, it’s National Minority Health Month. We’re back again in August [Natural Immunization Awareness Month], October [Dental Hygiene Awareness Month] and November [National Diabetes Awareness Month] to deliver free health screenings across the 10 markets. At the end of the day, we are hoping to deliver $21 million worth of free preventive services to our customers.

Our purpose is to put people on [the] path to better health. We want to make sure our customers are as healthy as possible. Offering preventive health screenings is one way to do that.

How are customers responding to the Project Health campaign?

We want more customers to take advantage of the screenings. We’ve had some really good results and we’re able to change people’s lives by providing education and awareness in terms of risks for chronic disease and diseases that can be prevented such as high blood pressure and diabetes which over index in the African American community. We want people to understand their risk and know the steps that they can take to improve outcomes when it comes to health.

Project Health has been around since 2006, we’ve delivered more than $100 million worth of free and low-cost medical services across the country. this is our third year in Atlanta, It’s national minority health month and we are celebrating with free screenings at our retail locations throughout the city. Every Thursday through Saturday in April from 2 to 6 p.m., you can come by your neighborhood CVS Pharmacy and get free screenings for blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol and glucose as well as meet with one of our pharmacists and a nurse practitioner so they can help you interpret your results and put you on the path to better health.

Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.