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Free Screenings, Helpful Advice and a Visit from Pro Athletes at Project Health

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A customer receives a free health screening.
This Project Health event in Atlanta was one of nearly 600 targeting underserved communities.
A customer receiving a free health screening.
More than 87 percent of patients who attend Project Health events report following-up with their primary care physician.
A CVS Pharmacy store with Project Health sign.
Nearly 600 Project Health free health screenings were held in CVS store locations across the country.

Jean Peterson dropped by the City Line Avenue CVS Pharmacy in West Philadelphia to pick up pictures she’d dropped off at the photo department. Moments later, she also came away with a better picture of her own health — and the chance to snap a selfie with two local heroes: former Villanova basketball star Donte DiVincenzo and state Rep. Morgan Cephas.

Peterson had happened upon one of the many free screenings that CVS Health is offering across the country. During the next four months, nearly 600 Project Health events will take place in multicultural communities with a large number of uninsured or underinsured Americans. At each event, participants receive on-the-spot assessments of weight, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels – tests that can help detect risk for chronic conditions such diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Since its founding in 2006, Project Health’s free health and wellness screenings have delivered more than $127 million in free health care services to nearly 1.7 million Americans.

One of those Americans was Peterson. The 70-year-old retired nurse learned that her blood sugar was a bit high, most likely due to medications she was given after a recent back surgery. “I always take advantage of things like this,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt and it keeps me in touch with what I need to take care of.”

Know Your Numbers

Sometimes, the people who think they need the testing the least are the ones who benefit the most.

Brenda, a screener technician at the Project Health event in the Kendall neighborhood of Miami, said a lot of very fit people come in to be screened, usually because they want to know their BMI. But other tests are just as important. One of her patients was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

“The guy said, ‘I’m very fit, I go to the gym and stuff like that, I train people, too,’” said Brenda, who is applying to medical school. But they tested him three more times – once manually – and the results were the same. “And the doctor was like, ‘Hey, you need to go to your doctor and follow up. Please.’ We were very shocked. He looked extremely healthy, very muscular.”

Speaking Their Language

Many of our Miami stores sit in Hispanic neighborhoods, emphasizing the importance of having bilingual screeners, says Elena Ferrales, a health screening manager for Project Health.

Cristina, a young mother, wheeled her seven-month-old into the Miami store and signed up to have a screening while her baby slept in the stroller. She had diabetes while she was pregnant, and though her levels have gone down, she tries to check them regularly. After her screening, she sat with the doctor and, conversing in both English and Spanish, they discussed her results and he gave her food recommendations.

Later, a similar conversation with an older man was conducted entirely in Spanish.

A Slam Dunk for Health

As much as anyone, professional athletes understand the importance of good health. They also understand that it’s not always easy for people to access the care they need to achieve it.

“If I wake up feeling something is wrong, I know there’s a handful of people ready to check me out,” says Donte DiVincenzo, a two-time NCAA basketball champ with the Villanova Wildcats, now a point guard with the Milwaukee Bucks. “But I shouldn’t get special treatment just because I’m a pro athlete. Everyone should have these resources.”

A handful of athletes were featured speakers at Project Health events. In addition to DiVincenzo, who appeared in Philadelphia, Los Angeles Clippers forward Mfiondu Kabengele spoke in Anaheim and Heat player Bam Adebayo attended the Miami event.

Kabengele says he learned during his first year with the NBA the importance of undergoing regular checkups. Small everyday steps, he says, can add up.

“When you have poor health, everything dumbs down,” he says. “When you're healthy, your motor is good. Preventive care is a reality check to make improvements.”

Being good sports, the athletes joined the customers to be screened. Adebayo – a player for the Heat – noted how easy it was to get screened inside the store.

“You don’t have the anxiety, you don’t have to have an appointment, you don’t need to be there at 8, the anxiety of waiting around, what if something is wrong with me?” he said. “You just walk in, get it, see how it goes.”

Access for All

Morgan Cephas, a track and field star at Central High School in Philadelphia and now a Pennsylvania state representative, knows the importance of health care from the perspective of both an athlete and a policymaker. As vice chair of the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, she noted that 10 percent of those in her district are uninsured or underinsured.

“Not everyone is the daughter or cousin or friend of a state representative,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to choose between managing their health and keeping a roof over their heads.”

An Immediate Impact

What happens after the screenings is up to the individual. But for one participant, the consultation had an immediate impact.

Zita James, 68, had been on her way to the nearby coffee shop when she noticed signs outside for the free screenings at the Philadelphia location. After her detour to CVS, she chose to make a positive change to her health.

“It stopped me going next door and getting two jelly doughnuts!” she laughed.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

A customer receiving a free health screening.
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Our opioid response

At CVS Health, our expansive reach, expertise and access to local communities position us to help address prescription opioid misuse and abuse with an enterprise-wide approach.

CVS Health has made a commitment to help address the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids by designing programs and collaborating with community leaders, policymakers, law enforcement, health care professionals and others to increase community-based educational programs related to opioid misuse and abuse, create safe prescription drug disposal sites, expand access to life-saving antidotes and advocate for targeted and effective policies, locally and nationally.

Our comprehensive enterprise approach includes:

  • Safe medication disposal units installed in more than 2,000 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide

  • Donated nearly 1,000 safe medication disposal units to local police departments across the country

  • Pharmacist counseling for patients filling their first opioid prescription

  • Enhanced utilization management for our CVS Caremark clients

  • Community investments to support addiction recovery and prevention

  • Opioid abuse prevention education for teens and parents

  • Access to and advocacy for opioid-overdose reversal medication

  • Ongoing advocacy to promote prescription drug monitoring programs, prescription limitations, and e-prescribing

  • Board-level oversight of our opioid-related safety, programs and initiatives

Aetna has also employed a comprehensive strategy to fight opioid abuse, with the goal by 2020 of drastically reducing overprescribing and misuse.

Aetna’s strategic programs focus on prevention, intervention and support for treatment, including ‘super-prescriber’ interventions to physicians, surgeons and dentists with outlying opioid prescribing habits; Aetna Pharmacy’s Controlled Substance Use programs that identify and intervene with at-risk members; and the Guardian Angel pilot program to identify and outreach to members who recently experienced an opioid-related overdose.

Our ongoing opioid abuse prevention efforts and enterprise initiatives are supported by all parts of the company — including our CVS Pharmacy retail presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, CVS Caremark, our PBM that manages medications for more than 100 million plan members — and reach patients, providers, payors, advocacy organizations, elected leaders and community health advocates.

Working in collaboration with these health care stakeholders, CVS Health is committed to helping to address opioid misuse and abuse.

From in-store programs like our medication disposal units and first-fill counseling to guidelines for opioid utilization management for our prescription benefits members, we’ve taken a proactive approach to opioid abuse prevention.  

Learn more about our prevention and patient engagement efforts.

We recognize the importance of tackling opioid misuse and abuse at the local level, with local solutions. To do that, we’ve launched education programs for teens and parents and committed funding to organizations across the country to support prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.

Learn more about our opioid-focused community initiatives.

As a leading stakeholder in health care, we work with advocacy organizations and elected leaders to recommend new and enhanced policies that will help prevent opioid misuse and abuse.  

Learn more about our public policy work.

Our Board has made our commitment to help address prescription opioid abuse an important priority of CVS Health. Within the Board, the Audit Committee, Medical Affairs Committee, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and the Management Planning and Development Committee each play a significant role in the Board’s oversight efforts.

Learn more about our corporate governance.

Our Board is actively engaged in our efforts to address prescription opioid abuse through its oversight and review of the programs we are implementing to respond to prescription opioid abuse and working with our executive team as it develops new strategies to address it.

Read more about the role of our board in our efforts.

Our progress

A $100M Commitment to Improve Community Health

A $100M Commitment to Improve Community Health
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Building healthier communities | Dad helping child on bike inside heart logo.

Helping people on their path to better health is the purpose behind everything we do at CVS Health. And with a presence in nearly 10,000 communities nationwide, we understand that fulfilling that purpose starts locally, with care that’s both affordable and easily accessible.

By combining with Aetna, we are bringing together a unique set of capabilities and resources to improve the health of communities across the United States. We’re doing this not only through the introduction of innovative new tools and services, but also with meaningful investments at the local level.

A Focus on Community-Level Health

To help us deliver on this goal, we’ve launched the Building Healthier Communities initiative, a five-year, $100-million commitment to support critical programs and partnerships with local and national nonprofit organizations.

“Our new commitment builds upon the exemplary track records of CVS Health and Aetna in supporting community-based organizations to ensure they have the most effective tools, resources and solutions to accelerate the improvement of health care for individuals and families across the country,” said Larry Merlo, CVS Health President and CEO, who announced the initiative during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on January 14.

Building Healthier Communities will be funded by our newly combined company, as well as the CVS Health Foundation and the Aetna Foundation and will focus on initiatives and programs in three categories:

Improving Local Access to Affordable Quality Care

Recognizing the importance of ensuring that neither cost nor location are a barrier to care, in 2006, we launched Project Health, which provides no-cost comprehensive health assessments. Since its founding, the program has delivered more than $127 million in free health care services to nearly 1.7 million Americans.

As part of the Building Healthier Communities initiative, our Project Health campaign will expand to target more underserved and underinsured communities beginning in 2019.

In addition, we will continue to invest in local community health programs and organizations, providing grant funding in 2019 to more than 100 free clinics and community health centers.

Impacting Public Health Challenges 

Chronic disease, opioid abuse and youth tobacco use are all issues that adversely affect the health of many Americans, each and every day.

The Building Healthier Communities initiative will work to tackle these public health challenges through:  

Partnering with Local Communities

Understanding and combatting public health issues and disparities that are unique to individual communities are also critical to affecting change. Through Building Healthier Communities we will:

  • Support the Healthiest Communities rankings, a groundbreaking report that evaluates the health of nearly 3,000 communities nationwide and identifies the best approaches for improvement.
  • Continue to support, through the CVS Health Foundation and the Aetna Foundation, community-based organizations that address public health.
  • Pledge a minimum $10 million in value of volunteer hours each year by CVS Health and Aetna employees to create healthier, more sustainable communities.
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