Recently, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton sat down with the President of the BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation Dr. John Lumpkin via Zoom and filmed an episode of Critical Conversations. In this series, Scott talks with professionals about economic development issues affecting the state.
Dr. Lumpkin has been the President of BCBSNC Foundation since April 2019.
The BCBSNC Foundation is a private, charitable foundation established as an independent entity by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in 2000 with the mission to improve the health and well-being of everyone in our state.
Dr. Lumpkin started his career in emergency medicine before pivoting his interest to address underlying issues in communities through a focus on Public Health.He worked at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on addressing healthcare issues across the country. When the opportunity arose to work at the state level, Dr. Lumpkin was excited to lead the BCBSNC Foundation by working on healthcare issues on the state level.
Dr. Lumpkin mentioned that the funder of his Foundation, BCBSNC, is leading an initiative called the Extra Miles Tour to visit every county in North Carolina. So far, BCBSNC has visited 90 counties. You can track the progress and read about the tour here. Dr. Lumpkin explained that although every county has its unique differentiating factors, common themes are seen at each visit. He said healthcare themes that affect economic progress such as access to healthcare, access to healthy food, availability of workforce housing, access to broadband, and access to childcare. Dr. Lumpkin stated that another major takeaway is the important role of community colleges. Dr. Lumpkin said that the community colleges are a driving force for companies to locate in an area because of the customizable training offered at the colleges.
In fact, Dr. Lumpkin noted as the BCBSNC went through each county on the Extra Miles Tour, one of the most common issues that communities were facing across the board was a lack of essential workers in hospitals and clinics. The BCBSNC Foundation Board decided to add a new priority to focus on building up the workforce as that is essential to access to care. One of the ways BCBSNC Foundation is working on this priority is by working to build upon the innovations already in place in our state and help spread them to other areas of the state. One example of such an innovation is that Catawba Valley Community College has a state-of-the-art healthcare training center offering a simulated hospital environment where current health professionals can come to train as well as the community college students who are working to gain degrees and certificates.
Critical Conversations is a feature in the Golden LEAF newsletter every month. The next edition will be in our October 12th edition of LEAF Lines.