CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation is extending its impact on the health of babies in Tennessee with a $1.7 million grant to the Blues Project, an infant mortality initiative administered by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The project which has served nearly 1,000 mothers in Shelby County Tennessee for the last five years will launch in Hamilton County this September.

The Blues Project, a clinic and home-based social intervention program, is a study aimed at reducing infant mortality rates to positively affect health outcomes for at-risk mothers and their babies. It is designed to help improve maternal, fetal and pediatric outcomes by providing TennCare-eligible pregnant women access to quality prenatal care and services through clinic-based group visits at approved community health centers.

“Our ultimate goal is to have all babies born in Tennessee be healthy,” said Calvin Anderson, vice president of federal and community relations for BlueCross. “The Blues Project is proving to be an effective model for reducing infant mortality and low-birth weights in West Tennessee and we’re pleased now to bring its benefits to Hamilton County.”

Tennessee ranks 47th in infant mortality rates in the nation, while Hamilton County has one of the highest rates in the state with 11.2 infant deaths per every 1,000 births according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

The BlueCross grant will be used for the Phase III expansion of the Blues Project to extend services to 500 pregnant women at two health care centers in Chattanooga as well as to an additional 500 women in Shelby County. During Phases I and II nearly 1,000 at-risk mothers experienced more than 900 healthy deliveries.

The Blues Project is holistic in scope compared to other programs and empowers women to overcome social and economic barriers adversely affecting their health and that of their children. For example, mothers in the program are each assigned a team of nurses, social workers and community liaisons who collaborate with the clinic’s obstetrician/gynecologist and pediatric providers. Participants are also given information to help them continue their education and secure employment, which leads to better lives for them and their children.

About the University of Tennessee Health Science Center

As the flagship statewide academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC has additional colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy plus an Allied Health Sciences unit in Knoxville, as well as a College of Medicine campus in Chattanooga. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.

About Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. (THF) was established in December, 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. THF awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, THF is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.