Newsroom | 27 November 2018

Cigna Foundation Grant to Help Improve Health of Native American Moms and Babies Through Prenatal Care, Drug and Addiction Education and Recovery


Gloria Barone Rosanio

Angela Douglas

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. & BILLINGS, Mont., 27 November, 2018 - The Cigna Foundation announced it will provide a $100,000 grant to the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation in Billings, Montana to help improve the health outcomes of Native American women and babies through increased access to early prenatal care, drug education and intervention when needed. The grant addresses drug addiction that has reached into Native American communities. 1

“Addiction is a national crisis, and tribes are experiencing its impact along with the rest of the country. St. Vincent’s is a mission-driven health care facility dedicated to serving the Native American community, and Cigna Foundation is helping us develop a sustainable maternity care delivery model,” said Vicki Birkeland, St. Vincent Healthcare Director of Women’s Services. “This is important work and we look forward to seeing improved health outcomes for the moms and babies we serve.”

Previously, the Cigna Foundation provided grant funding to St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation to support an American Indian Health Disparities Coordinator who serves as a community health worker. St. Vincent’s chose Kassie Runsabove, a Native American, for this role to work as an advocate and cultural liaison, and to be responsible for implementing projects to identify and reduce health disparities.

The new Cigna Foundation grant provides an additional year of funding to help St. Vincent’s further its mission to improve the cultural competency skills of maternal health care providers, and to work with tribal community partners to provide prenatal education on healthy nutrition, stress management, and other healthy lifestyle topics. The St. Vincent’s program is expected to result in measurable outcomes, including:

  • Earlier access to prenatal care with the goal of improving birth weights
  • Increased participation at prenatal clinics at St. Vincent Healthcare’s Midwifery & Women’s Health Center, the midwifery clinic on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, and at the health care facilities of community partners including Indian Health Services (IHS)
  • Decreased numbers of NICU admissions
  • Decreased numbers of babies born prematurely
  • Increased participation in substance abuse recovery programs

“We are focused on improving health equity and are working with organizations such as St. Vincent’s to eliminate disparities that create barriers to health care,” said Mary Engvall, executive director of the Cigna Foundation. “St. Vincent’s community health worker is integral to effectively coordinating care between the rural reservations and an urban hospital setting in a culturally sensitive manner, while building a safe environment of trust for patients.”

For more information on the Cigna Foundation’s partnership with St. Vincent’s, see the video:

About the Cigna Foundation

The Cigna Foundation, founded in 1962, is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America, Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York, or their affiliates. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in over 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 95 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit For more information about Cigna's proposed acquisition of Express Scripts, please visit

1 “Illicit Drug Use, Illicit Drug Use Disorders, and Drug Overdose Deaths in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas — United States,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, (MMWR), Surveillance Summaries / October 20, 2017 / 66(19);1–12, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report