United Healthcare, Optum donate $50K to Florida Behavioral Health Association for Hurricane Ian recovery
Stock image via Adobe.

Disaster assistance is shown on the conceptual business photo
Six FBHA members employing more than 500 staff were directly impacted by the hurricane in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties. 

United Healthcare Group businesses UnitedHealthcare and Optum gave $50,000 to the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA) to support the group’s members with Hurricane Ian recovery.

The FBHA is Florida’s largest trade association representing community treatment providers.

The grant will help members in Southwest Florida, the area hardest hit by Hurricane Ian, rebuild and recover from the storm’s impacts. United Healthcare continues to serve clients in the region.

Six FBHA members employing more than 500 staff were directly impacted by the hurricane in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties. 

“Our behavioral health provider agencies suffered physical damages to buildings, loss of electricity for days, loss of fuel supply, loss of generators, and devastatingly, staff even lost family members. Despite these hardships at work and at home, our staff came to work every day, spent hours walking through neighborhoods to check in on their clients, and never said ‘no’ when asked for help,” FBHA President and CEO Melanie Brown-Woofter said. “The money that UnitedHealthcare and Optum have generously donated will help our members get back on their feet so they can continue to help the community heal.”

Added United Healthcare Community Plan of Florida CEO Michael Lawton: “UnitedHealthcare and our partners at Optum are committed to supporting the recovery and wellbeing of Floridians who have been impacted by such a disastrous storm, and to ensuring continued access to high-quality health care in their local communities.” 

The grant ads to a $1 million donation from United Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of UnitedHealth Group, to help Floridians recover from the storm.

“We are honored to join UnitedHealthcare in helping Florida’s behavioral health community recover from storm damage so that impacted providers and staff can continue delivering critical behavioral health services to those that need them,” Senior Vice President, Government Solutions and Business Development for Optum Behavioral Health Solutions Lori Halpern said.

UnitedHealthcare and Optum serve millions of Floridians through their benefits and health services businesses.

Floridians in need of assistance can take advantage of various support resources including FBHA’s members’ toll-free helplines. The state of Florida emergency information line is 1-800-342-3557. In addition, First Lady Casey DeSantis along with the Florida Department of Children and Families created the Family Support Line to connect individuals who are struggling post-Hurricane Ian with Floridians who survived Hurricane Michael in the panhandle in 2018. That number is (888) 850- 7935.

Optum’s free emotional-support help line, 1-866-447-3573, is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. ET. The service is free of charge and open to anyone. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources. Along with the toll-free help line, emotional-support resources and information are available online at liveandworkwell.com.

The Centers for Disease Control also offers tips for self-care following a traumatic event. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s disaster distress helpline is 1-800-985-5990. 

FBHA is a non-profit organization that provides statewide leadership on behavioral health policy and practice. FBHA supports member agencies offering services to those in need of mental health and substance use disorder assistance and support. Its members include a broad range of provider types, ranging from small specialty organizations to comprehensive treatment organizations with multiple locations within a geographic region. 

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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