Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois is taking a major step to improve community wellness in Chicago. BCBSI recently opened its first-ever neighborhood center aimed at improving community health by addressing common health challenges. The center is located in one of Chicago’s 77 communities in Pullman. I spoke with Laron Taylor, the director of the Blue Door Neighborhood Center to get a better understanding of the services they are providing to make a difference in the community.
Tell me about Blue Door Neighborhood Center that recently opened in Chicago?
The Blue Door Neighborhood Center is a brick and mortar [development] in the Pullman community. It’s a center with the goal to make a positive impact on community health. Another objective of the center is to alleviate the social determinants of health.
What types of services does the Blue Door Neighborhood Center provide?
We’re offering face-to-face engagement and care coordination, as well as health and wellness programs that focus on the whole person from mental, physical and social aspects. We offer a community space for nonprofit organizations that align with the center’s vision. We’re partnering with different social services and community-based, faith-based, and government organizations to bring education and awareness about social determinants. We have programming to assist those who are looking for employment, those who are experiencing issues with housing affordability, and those who need legal services. We have seven focus areas, in heart disease, diabetes, and nutrition and Medicaid redetermination, parent and child wellness.
Why did Blue Cross Blue Shield select the Pullman community?
They want to know what goes on in their community. They are very outspoken. I’ve gotten to know several engaged individuals. They’re going to tell you what they think and what their beliefs are. They’re very invested. The Pullman community is going through a revitalization right now and it’s beautiful to see. There are different businesses and housing programs being developed. For Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, that’s one of the reasons why we are here.
Who is eligible to receive services at the Blue Door Center?
The Blue Door Neighborhood Center is not just for BCBS members. The center is open to everyone regardless of membership. I’ve had individuals with different insurance plans come and they’re happy to engage with the staff and participate in our health and wellness programs. We don’t have any geographical limitations either. Although we have a hyper-local focus on the Pullman community, we’ve had individuals from as far away as Hyde Park drive to visit the center.
Are there any costs involved for the services the center provides?
All of our programs are at no cost. However, our care coordination services are specific to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois members who are eligible for those services. So with the exception to care coordination, [all] other programming is provided at no cost.