Due to the increased need for access to social service resources during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, Highmark Delaware and Highmark Health Options are implementing an online social care network, Aunt Bertha, which serves as a referral tool for urgent needs.
Aunt Bertha connects people to resources that can assist with addressing needs such as food, housing and transportation, and is available to all members and patients served across Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and nationally.
“Many Delawareans are facing challenging situations due to COVID-19 and Highmark Delaware and Highmark Health Options continue to seek ways in which to alleviate the stress, fear and uncertainty that comes with that,” said Nick Moriello, president of Highmark Delaware.
Highmark Delaware, Highmark Health Options and their affiliated organizations had been working to launch Aunt Bertha but accelerated the process because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent social needs of the community.
As Delaware’s nonprofit community works to address longstanding, current and emerging needs, Highmark Delaware and Highmark Health Options hope this tool can support those efforts, and help those who are unfamiliar with, or are having trouble navigating, the system. The Highmark Health enterprise is providing open access to this service to assist in connecting the dots to urgent resources, particularly for those who may have recently lost sources of income due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We expect Aunt Bertha to be a welcome tool and resource to assist those in need in a very impactful and effective manner,” said Todd Graham, president of Highmark Health Options.
Aunt Bertha allows users to find nearby community benefit organizations, making it easier for people to access social services in their neighborhoods, for nonprofits to coordinate their efforts and for healthcare providers to integrate social care into their work. The directory contains geographic-specific information on social service agencies and CBOs across the U.S. COVID-19 specific resources also will be listed on the Aunt Bertha site. Once a zip code is entered, online users can filter for specific needs. There are no income restraints or financial cost to use Aunt Bertha. In addition to public access, providers, social workers and care coordinators across the Highmark Health enterprise can access information and recommend services.
Highmark Delaware members can access Aunt Bertha by visiting the Medical and Community Resources page at highmarkanswers.com, and Delaware Health Options members can access the directory at highmarkhealthoptions.com.
The Aunt Bertha initiative is one of many led by Highmark’s social determinants of health task force. While SDOH is considered a relatively new term, Highmark has been addressing social needs that are barriers to good health for decades. In the last five years alone, Highmark has committed nearly half a billion dollars in SDOH-related initiatives, including strategic community partnerships, workforce and economic development and access to care. Most recently, Highmark announced $2 million in grants to organizations focused on helping people in need across Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more, visit highmark.com.