Two South Florida programs addressing opioids epidemic named Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Award winners


A Third Area program receives prestigious recognition

The Florida Blue Foundation has recognized two South Florida programs as winners of its prestigious Sapphire Award for excellence and innovation in community health, and for the two group’s impact on people battling opioids/substance use disorders. The nonprofits are each receiving awards of $70,000.

The Medication Assisted Treatment program at Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County launched in 2015 to address the skyrocketing incidence of opioid use in pregnant women and reduce the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. In 2017, the program expanded to help all patients battling opioid addiction. Since its inception, the program has served more than 500 patients, successfully connecting them to primary care services and psychiatric care.

Founded in 2016 after the passage of Florida’s Infectious Disease Elimination Act (IDEA), the IDEA Syringe Services Program in Miami-Dade County provides new syringes in exchange for used ones, creating health equity and increasing access to the tools necessary to keep people healthy – especially those who are most vulnerable.

A third South Florida program, Chapman Partnership’s Miami Hope Clinic, is a 2020 Sapphire Awards finalist, and received an award of $30,000.

In total, the Florida Blue Foundation awarded Sapphire Awards to six winners and a finalist in individual, program and organization categories for their work addressing issues of poverty and opioids/substance abuse. Those recognized represent communities throughout the state of Florida. A total of $470,000 was awarded.

As this year’s awards dinner did not take place due to coronavirus concerns, the honorees will be recognized at the 2021 Sapphire Awards event, part of the Foundation’s annual Community Health Symposium that brings together health advocates from across the country to discuss major health issues.

“Although we could not gather in person this year to honor these excellent community organizations, the outcomes and results achieved by these honorees are stellar, and we did not want to delay their well-deserved recognition,” said Florida Blue Foundation Vice President Susan Towler. These honorees represent the best in community health across our state.”

Since 2005, the Florida Blue Foundation has invested more than $5.5 million, and given out 114 Sapphire Awards given to 29 individuals and 85 programs and organizations that effectively address health issues in their Florida communities.

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