Services for the uninsured, such as cancer screenings, immunizations, needed medications and diabetes management testing, are among the areas of need addressed by grants just awarded by The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Five grants were approved at the May 31 meeting of The Foundation's board of directors, providing $47,975 in funding to regional nonprofit programs that will serve more than 2,000 uninsured individuals.

The Foundation awarded the grants to health education and prevention programs in six counties across northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. Each project met criteria under The Foundation's Access to Care for the Un/Underinsured grant category.

"These grants will help our community health partners serve those who are un- or underinsured and in need of basic medical services," said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation. "We are pleased to be in a position to support critical programs for these individuals."

In Carbon County, the Blue Mountain Health System (BMHS) Mammography and Diagnostic Ultrasounds Program has provided free mammograms to uninsured women since 2002. BMHS will use a Foundation grant of $9,975 to expand this screening program to include an additional 95 un/underinsured women in the coming year. Qualified women will be identified and referred to the program by local physicians, and any women identified as needing follow-up intervention will be treated by BMHS regardless of ability to pay.

In Luzerne County, the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) Dental Clinic operates four days a week, 30 weeks a year to provide dental screenings, evaluations and education for a diverse population of patients. In 2010-2011, the Clinic served more than 830 uninsured children and adults, including the elderly and special needs individuals. The Clinic anticipates an increase in the number of uninsured patients seeking services in the future. When combined with matching funds, The Foundation's grant of $8,000 will help the Clinic purchase dental supplies to serve no less than 520 new uninsured patients in Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming Counties.

In Tioga County, North Penn Comprehensive Health Services' Diabetes Care Management Project is designed to increase compliance with recommended testing, improve diabetes self-management and minimize diabetes-related health effects among the un/underinsured. A Foundation grant of $10,000 will help purchase A1C test kits to support regular care for 400 current or yet-to-be diagnosed patients. Participants will also meet with North Penn's Certified Diabetes Educator to learn more about behavior modifications such as healthy eating, being active, and reducing risks to better manage their diabetes.

In Lycoming County, the Susquehanna Community Health and Dental Clinic provides medical services for any County resident, including more than 3,500 low-income and un/underinsured children and adults. Uninsured patients often forgo recommended immunizations, leaving this population at a higher risk for preventable diseases. The Clinic will use a Foundation grant of $10,000 to purchase vaccines to immunize more than 200 un/underinsured patients against influenza, pneumonia, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough in the coming year.

In Lackawanna County, the University of Scranton's Edward R. Leahy Center Clinic provides free primary health care services to uninsured County residents. The Leahy Center Clinic will use a Foundation grant of $10,000 to increase its available inventory of single course treatments, preventive treatments, lab supplies and disposable medical supplies to serve an estimated 1,000 new un/underinsured individuals in the coming year. In addition, the Clinic will expand the on-site hours of a pharmacist to educate patients on the proper use of prescribed medications.