For Immediate Release
January 15, 2013
Contact Information

Cigna Corporation
Gloria Barone
Methodist Healthcare
Ruth Ann Hale, APR

(BPRW) Cigna Grant to Methodist Healthcare Targets Health in Memphis Neighborhood

- "¢ $100,000 grant from Cigna Foundation to Methodist Healthcare Foundation "¢ Focus is health disparities in neighborhood of Riverview "¢ Work involves mapping of all health and community assets -

(BLACK PR WIRE) – MEMPHIS, Tenn. & BLOOMFIELD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A new $100,000 grant from the Cigna Foundation to the Methodist Healthcare Foundation in Memphis will address health disparities in the community of Riverview – a neighborhood just south of downtown Memphis. Ninety-eight percent of Riverview’s primarily African-American residents live below the national poverty line. Poverty is recognized as a root cause of illness and disease, signaling the need to address health problems at the grassroots level. 

“Cigna has a long history in Memphis and a strong presence as a partner with Methodist,” said Mary Tate-Smith, vice president for Cigna in Memphis. “Over the years, we’ve been impressed by Methodist’s grassroots initiatives to improve the health of Memphis residents.” 

The grant will make it possible for Methodist to map community assets to improve health in Riverview. “Our aim is to work collaboratively to develop a community-driven, patient-centered medical home model to provide wellness programs, mentoring, education, advocacy and training,” said Paula Jacobson, president of the Methodist Healthcare Foundation. “A key focus will be helping patients navigate the health care system to access preventive care and self-management of chronic disease,” she said. “Many members of the community currently access care in emergency rooms. This project seeks to reduce the number of emergency room visits while facilitating treatment at more appropriate points of care and lowering health care costs in the community overall.” 

Through the grant, Methodist will build on its Congregational Health Network (CHN), a relationship among Methodist and more than 500 congregations throughout Memphis and North Mississippi. CHN is a network connecting the professional care system – including the hospital – with the natural caring system of family, neighbors and congregations. In the CHN, full-time navigators at each adult hospital and more than 550 unpaid volunteers in participating congregations build “human bridges” as they help people navigate the journey from home to medical care and back. Eight CHN churches in the Riverview community are already poised to participate in this initiative. 

“What is unique about this approach is that the congregation becomes a part of the quality care team,” said Teresa Cutts, Ph.D., director of research at the Methodist Center of Excellence in Faith and Health, who serves as Principle Investigator for the grant. “We’re blending the complementary strengths of congregation and hospital in a tightly woven network of care.” 

The Rev. James E. Kendricks, pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church and key leader of Health Watch Urban Ministries, said, “There is great need among my congregation and community members. Together, we can take an active stance to improve conditions here.” 

Through this innovative work, Methodist is employing asset mapping strategies that it started in 2007, when Methodist first replicated this model of health care community engagement that has its roots in Africa. Using the Geographic Information System, the mapping process in Riverview locates tangible health assets, such as clinics, and intangible assets, such as goodwill efforts, which are considered useful in combating targeted health issues. These resources are then catalogued for health care professionals and congregations to coordinate all aspects of patient care. Once mapping is complete, existing resources will be strengthened and aligned with new resources. 

Cigna and the Cigna Foundation have provided $300,000 in grants to the Methodist Healthcare Foundation since 2005. Past projects have focused on measuring the impact of interventions on heart failure, improving patient/doctor communication to enhance diabetes treatment, funding health assets mapping, developing the CHN and supporting a hospice residence, all with strong results. 

Reducing health disparities is a major focus of Cigna Connects, Cigna's corporate responsibility platform, through which Cigna is bringing together experts and stakeholders to create lasting improvements in health. (

“We’re grateful to Cigna for helping us make this important healthcare initiative possible,” Cutts said. “We’re confident it will make a difference in the lives of Riverview residents.” 

About the Cigna Foundation 

The Cigna Foundation is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work. 

About Cigna
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, and other related products including group disability, life, and accident coverage. Cigna has sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, with approximately 70 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit  

About the Methodist Healthcare Foundation
The Methodist Healthcare Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Methodist Healthcare and serves as an instrument to assist, advance and strengthen Methodist Healthcare in the ministry of healing; in its community healthcare services; in its provision of educational excellence for students in various health fields; and its related health and humanitarian endeavors. Gifts to the Foundation contribute to conducting research and education that saves lives; to providing care for those who can’t afford it; to building important community assets like our new hospice residence for patients at the end of life; and to creating unique initiatives like Methodist’s first non-clinical center of excellence ever, The Center of Excellence in Faith and Health. For more information, visit  

About Methodist Healthcare
Methodist Healthcare is an integrated healthcare delivery system in Memphis, Tenn. Founded in 1918 by The United Methodist Church to help meet the growing needs for quality healthcare in the Mid-South, Methodist Healthcare is a seven hospital system with 6 adult hospitals and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. An eighth hospital, Methodist Olive Branch, will open in North Mississippi in 3rd quarter 2013. The system also owns or operates outpatient clinics, surgery and diagnostic centers, a residential hospice and several physician practices in Memphis, Shelby County and the surrounding area. Methodist’s Memphis Hospitals, licensed as one, has been named the Best Hospital in Memphis by U.S. News and World Report. With 1,709 licensed beds and nearly 63,000 discharges, Methodist is the third largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the country, based on admissions. To learn more about Methodist Healthcare, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, go to  

Source: Cigna Foundation

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