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Blue Ribbon Foundation and ALA Are Improving Lung Health For At-Risk Individuals

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By: Anthony Matrisciano
November 2, 2011

More than 7,500 individuals reached by tobacco prevention and COPD education programs

November 1, 2011, Wilkes-Barre, PA —November marks National Lung Cancer and COPD Awareness Month, and The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) has recently funded education and outreach programs through the American Lung Association (ALA) that are impacting more than 7,500 residents across northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

“According to ALA statistics, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading overall cause of death in the U.S.,” said Tony Delonti, program specialist, American Lung Association (ALA) in Pennsylvania.  “The good news is that both of these conditions are preventable through early intervention and education programs.”

Since late 2009, The Foundation has awarded two grants totaling $14,000 to the American Lung Association to help address these health issues.  A $10,000 grant funded the delivery of the “Tobacco on Trial” school-based tobacco education program to school districts across seven counties during calendar 2010.

“The Blue Ribbon Foundation grant helped us reach 7,500 5th through 12th grade students in 38 different school districts,” said Delonti.  “To help prevent lung, pancreatic and oral cancers caused by smoking and other tobacco use, it’s essential that we reach children at an age when they are most susceptible to experimenting with tobacco.”

“Tobacco on Trial” is an interactive program that engages students as the jury for a trial where celebrities who died from using tobacco seek damages from cigarette manufacturers.  After presenting the evidence of how smoking impacts a person’s health, including an actual human smoker’s lung, the jury decides the outcome.

“Here in Luzerne County, the Trial was held at the Wilkes University Summer Program for high school students,” said Delonti.

More recently, in September of this year, The Foundation awarded a $4,000 grant to help the ALA expand COPD education through its “Better Breathers Club” program.  ALA will reach more than 120 lung disease patients, caregivers and hospital staff in Lackawanna, Tioga and Wayne Counties with current information about the basics of COPD, treatment, behavior change and proper disease management.

“Early detection and lifestyle changes can help minimize the effects of COPD on an individual’s quality of life and limit hospitalizations,” said Delonti.

“These grants are just two examples of the ways in which we partner with community health nonprofits to address some of the most pressing health issues facing our region today,” said Cynthia A. Yevich, The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s executive director.

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to more than 550,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide integrated health care services and products to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the populations we serve.

BCNEPA established its private, nonprofit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long-term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

Contact Us

Anthony Matrisciano
Phone: 570.200.6310
Cell: 570.574.0050
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