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CVS Health Combines "Guardian Angel" and Unite Us Programs to Support Opioid Overdose Victims in North Carolina

March 16, 2020 | Community

Collaboration with Unite Us also expanded to serve vulnerable community members in New Orleans and Tampa Bay

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 130 people die every day from opioid overdoses. For those individuals who suffer an overdose and are fortunate enough to survive, the event can serve as a turning point on the road to recovery.

To help people when they are potentially the most open to treatment, CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is enhancing the "Guardian Angel" program, which is designed to help individuals who suffer an opioid-related overdose. In North Carolina, the Guardian Angel program will now be supported by CVS Health's collaboration with Unite Us, a leading social care coordination platform. Through this combination, clinical case managers can use the Unite Us network of social services to connect individuals with non-clinical support that can aid their recovery, such as community resources to help with housing, food insecurity and financial assistance.

"The Guardian Angel program already has a high engagement rate of about 50 percent because it connects with people in a compassionate way during the time when they need it most," said Dr. Daniel Knecht, Vice President, Health Strategy and Innovation, CVS Health. "We recognize that whether a person is successfully able to fight addiction is not solely determined by the medical treatment that they receive. Through the Unite Us network of social care providers, people can more easily access support within their community and have a better chance of recovery."

Since the Guardian Angel program was launched by Aetna, a CVS Health company, in 2018, clinical case managers have connected with nearly 1,000 Aetna members who have suffered an overdose as well as their families, providing education and resources around the effectiveness of evidence-based addiction treatment. Members who have been contacted live in every part of the country and range in age from 16 to 79 years old (with an average age of 45).

The clinical case managers that participate in the Guardian Angel program will also be a part of the NCCARE360 network in North Carolina. NCCARE360 is the first statewide network that unites health care and human services organizations with a shared technology, Unite Us, that enables a coordinated, community-oriented, person-centered approach for delivering care. NCCARE360 is planned to be available statewide in North Carolina by the end of 2020.

Helping improve community health in New Orleans and Tampa Bay

In addition to integrating the Guardian Angel and Unite Us programs in North Carolina, CVS Health and Unite Us also launched programs in New Orleans and Tampa Bay, Florida to help Aetna's Medicaid and Dual Eligible (people eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare) members more easily access social services within their community. Working with Unite Us, Aetna's Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plan (DSNP) members in these communities can receive help from a wide range of services through local organizations - transportation, food assistance and meal delivery, adult day care, employment services and housing support, among others.

"Improving health starts at the community level, and most of that work needs to take place outside of a doctor's office," said Dr. Garth Graham, Vice President, Community Health & Impact, CVS Health. "Our collaboration with Unite Us allows us to support some of the most vulnerable members of the community, providing them with the local resources that they need to improve their everyday lives."

CVS Health's continued work with Unite Us is a key component of Destination: Health, a series of business programs focused on helping people improve their health outside of a clinical setting.

"We're excited and inspired by the progress and impact of the Destination Health initiative as it expands through the country," says Taylor Justice, Co-Founder and President of Unite Us. "It is encouraging to see the local community support as our teams continue to launch networks in Tampa and New Orleans to support Aetna's DSNP members, as well as combining the Guardian Angel and Unite Us programs in North Carolina."

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company in the world. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at

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Ethan Slavin