Oklahoma City Sentinel: Aetna donates over $145,000 to support WIR of Tulsa, ReMerge of Oklahoma County, Palomar and other programs for ‘survivors of abuse’ to improve the lives of Oklahomans

Oklahoma City Sentinel: Aetna donates over $145,000 to support WIR of Tulsa, ReMerge of Oklahoma County, Palomar and other program for ‘survivors of abuse’ to improve the lives of Oklahomans

By Patrick McGuigan
Published: March 12, 2023

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Aetna Better Health of Oklahoma announced that Aetna provided over $145,000 in donations to six organizations that support holistic and coordinated services for survivors of abuse and alternatives to incarceration. The organizations receiving donations are PalomarReMerge of Oklahoma CountyFamily and Children’s Services (Women in Recovery), Family Safety CenterOklahoma County Diversion Hub and Oklahoma County Treatment Courts. “Living in an environment that is safe, stable and provides opportunity to live your best life is fundamental for improving physical and mental health,” said CEO of Aetna Better Health of Oklahoma Sonja Hughes, MD, MHA, FACOG. “The life-changing work of these organizations put individuals at the center of care through support, rehabilitation and recovery services. The donations align with our commitment to improve the health of our communities.” The donations from Aetna will support communities across the state in areas such as interpersonal safety, health care access and quality, safe housing and transportation and incarceration. Palomar (Palomar: Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center) is a Family Justice Center that provides no-cost services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse and human trafficking.Aetna’s donation to Palomar will support emergency services for survivors of abuse and their families and provide funding for emergency relocation assistance, personal supplies, transportation support, children’s items, and safety and security measures. Oklahoma City voters in 2019 approved a direct taxpayer subsidy to the Palomar program when they approved approved a $ million bond to finance the aforementioned Family Justice Center. (https://www.city-sentinel.com/criminal_justice/an-editorial-voters-should-approve-maps-4/article_641a1eac-3abe-5628-ae37-8b8a6a62dffe.html ) “With Oklahoma’s domestic violence increasing four of the five years between 2015 and 2020, our services are critical. We have the opportunity to intervene and provide clients with the support needed to navigate abusive relationships,” said Kim Garrett, founder and chief visionary officer at Palomar. “We appreciate Aetna’s investment, which will help us continue to provide these lifesaving services.” ReMerge of Oklahoma County is a comprehensive, evidence-based diversion program serving mothers who are facing non-violent felony offenses in Oklahoma County. The organization seeks to reduce incarceration rates through holistic services focused on treatment, recovery and hope that return women to their families and communities.The donation from Aetna will support Hope Navigator training for ReMerge employees to promote and maintain the science and power of hope within the organization. Women in Recovery, an initiative of Family and Children’s Services operated in partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, serves as an outpatient alternative for women facing incarceration for nonviolent, drug-related offenses. Women in Recovery seeks to reduce the high number of women incarcerated in Oklahoma by providing intensive treatment addressing trauma and addiction while simultaneously supporting parent-child reunification, educational advancement and employment training and placement.The donation from Aetna supports evidence-based practices to help women who have experienced trauma cope with chronic pain in a healthy, mindful way. The emergence of the WIR model in Oklahoma City – upon the emergence of the ReMerge program in Oklahoma City – was designated one of Oklahoma City’s most significant milestones for 2013 in The City Sentinel’s evaluation of the year’s top news stories. A decade later, that assessment seems sound. (https://www.city-sentinel.com/news/a-million-stories-in-oklahoma-city-here-are-the-top-10-for-2013/article_12e07d30-0b47-5ada-8be1-936b6aa1543c.html ) Jenna Morey, now the ReMerge director, came to the organization from Goodwill Industries and has sustained the ReMerge model through the challenges of recent years. (https://www.city-sentinel.com/criminal_justice/remerge-taps-jenna-morey-as-new-executive-director/article_5861e112-5c5c-59cf-b2ba-7e75783e7490.html ) Family Safety Center provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking through collaboration with a wide range of community partners.The donation will support their Camp Hope America-Tulsa program to send eight children and two licensed therapists to one week of camp in a trauma-informed, hope-centered setting.Through a curriculum developed at the University of Oklahoma’s Hope Research Center, the camp will help reduce the trauma of violence and increase levels of hope and resilience in children. The donation will also help fund emergency medical transportation and treatments for uninsured survivors of strangulation and develop educational materials related to strangulation and anoxic and hypoxic brain injury.  Oklahoma County Diversion Hub seeks to connect justice-involved individuals to life-stabilizing resources and services to help them become safe, self-sufficient and stable members of the community. Through services such as justice navigation and case management, Diversion Hub helps individuals become better equipped to successfully navigate the justice system. Aetna’s donation will support these efforts by helping clients overcome barriers to transportation and providing rent and utility financial assistance.  Oklahoma County Treatment Courts serve as an innovative alternative to incarceration and seek to break cycles of addiction by providing holistic, individualized and evidence-based services for those with substance use disorders.The organization will use the donation from Aetna to reward healthy behaviors and actions. Inclusive of these donations, Aetna has pledged to donate over $600,000 to community organizations in Oklahoma. Note: Aetna Medicaid Administrators LLC (Aetna Medicaid) has over 30 years of experience managing the care of the most medically vulnerable, using innovative approaches and a local presence in each market to achieve both successful health care results and effective cost outcomes. Aetna Medicaid has particular expertise serving high-need Medicaid members, including those who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Currently, Aetna Medicaid owns and/or administers Medicaid managed health care plans under the names of Aetna Better Health and other affiliate names. For more information, see www.aetnabetterhealth.com. Together, these plans serve approximately 2.8 million people in 16 states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Pat McGuigan of The City Sentinel adapted this story for posting, working with a press release from Anthony Triana of Saxum, a public relations firm based in Oklahoma 

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