PORTLAND, Ore, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Approximately 117,000 of Oregon's children are uninsured, leaving them without access to basic services such as immunizations, which prevent critical illness and help them stay in school. At-risk and low-income children in Multnomah County's public schools will soon have access to some of these basic health screenings and services, thanks in part to a $20,000 grant from Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. Regence's grant will allow health screening teams from the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) to provide dental, scoliosis and vision screenings for more than 20,000 students. In addition, teams will also be able to provide immunization screenings in at least 90 high-need Multnomah County public schools to identify students in need of referral services. They can then be referred to a program such as the Oregon Health Plan or free clinics that work with MESD to provide services to Multnomah County families. The immunization screenings are particularly important, as students who do not have the proper immunizations by a mandated cutoff date in February are excluded from school as a result. Students who need immunizations are then able to receive them from the Multnomah County Health Department, which has partnered with MESD to provide these services. The MESD is targeting schools with particularly high exclusion rates in an effort to reach high-risk children and families in time to provide students with immunizations and stay in school. "Regence's gift reflects our commitment to helping people in our community live healthy, productive and successful lives. We are pleased to support the MESD in their efforts to provide young people in our community with the services they need to get a healthy start and thrive in school," said J. Bart McMullan, Jr., M.D., president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. The MESD is a regional cooperative agency that caters to the unique needs of Multnomah County public schools in such areas as special education, alternative education and outdoor education and the School Health Services program, of which the health screening teams are a part. By helping the teams provide health screenings and tracking, Regence's grant will ultimately help students receive the care they need to stay healthy and achieve an optimal educational experience. "Health screenings and immunizations are two of the most important prevention activities that school nurses can offer to prevent disease and promote child health. As more children in Oregon are not covered by health insurance, the school nurse plays a greater role as an advocate for children and a vital healthcare resource to children and families. We are very excited about our partnership with Regence to be able to expand our services to children we assure a healthy and successful academic experience," said Jan Sanderson, RN, of Multnomah Education Service District. About Multnomah Education Service District Multnomah Education Service District is a public agency responsible for a variety of direct and indirect services to eight Multnomah County school districts. MESD saves tax dollars by using efficient delivery strategies within a cooperative system of shared services and programs. MESD's programs and staff have been consistently recognized for excellence by local, regional and national organizations. In 2007, MESD was listed among the nation's top 12 education service agencies. About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon provides medical, dental and related coverage for about one million members in Oregon and in Clark County, Washington. It's part of the Regence Group, the largest affiliation of health plans in the northwest and intermountain states, collectively covering nearly three million people. The Regence Group and its affiliates are not-for-profit independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Nearly one in three Americans has health care coverage through Blue Plans. For more information, visit http://www.or.regence.com.
SOURCE Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon