Insurer awards $50,000 to help stem domestic violence

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Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield is providing $50,000 to support domestic violence prevention organizations across upstate New York as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The YWCA of the Mohawk Valley, which is headquartered in Utica and offers an array of services for victims of domestic violence from crisis counseling to shelters for women and children, is among seven organizations that will share the funding, according to an announcement by the insurer.

“With the numbers of people that continue to get sick, the growing unemployment rate, and an increase in anxiety and financial stress, this pandemic has created the perfect storm for an exacerbated domestic violence crisis,” stated Dr. Sudha Bakshi, Excellus BCBS medical director. 

“Helping to put an end to domestic violence and removing barriers for those in need is our main objective with this funding,” Bakshi added.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. have experienced violence from a partner in their lifetime — and the risks to victims are severe. Victims of domestic violence face more social isolation in general, even when there isn’t a widespread pandemic. Abusers have more tactics at their disposal when victims can’t easily get away from home.

With the multitude of entities closed to the public it is important for those in high risk situations to know that courts and many domestic violence organizations, phone hotlines, and shelters are available to help. Domestic violence organizations are also working to develop new strategies to support victims during the coronavirus pandemic, by offering hotline services through online chats or texting, in case victims cannot call with an abuser at home.

Other organizations receiving funding from Excellus BCBS include: The Family Justice Center, of Buffalo; Pinnacle Community Services, of Endicott; RISE, of Endicott; Vera House, of Syracuse; Resolve, of Rochester; and the Willow Center, of Rochester.

For the latest information on the health plan’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, members, providers and employers are encouraged to visit https://www.chooseexcellus.com/covid19.

Excellus BCBS has committed to spending more than $162 million to help its members and communities fight the pandemic, the announcement added.

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