Change is in our DNA at Horizon.
New Jersey is iconic in its diversity. Nearly 45% of our residents are people of color. We speak more than 155 different languages and have attracted immigrants from all over the globe since before New Jersey was even a state. Regardless of our differences – or maybe because of them – we are all New Jersey proud.
Despite a long history of diversity, our health care and social justice systems have too often failed to deliver the fairness and equity that New Jerseyans of every race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation equally deserve.
As a Newark-based company for nearly 90 years, Horizon has a long history of working to make health care work for everyone. When millions of Americans stood up for social justice after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery were killed, Horizon reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to be part of the solution, issuing a Pledge to Achieve Lasting and Positive Change.
Horizon’s CEO, Gary St. Hilaire, assembled a team from every division across the company and charged them with developing an action plan that championed diversity, equity and inclusion – for our members, for the communities we serve, and for the employees who bring our mission to life. The team divided into groups tasked with developing specific actions aimed at addressing the five elements of Horizon’s Pledge.
Holding ourselves accountable
Actions speak louder than words and the teams quickly moved to make real progress.
In 2021, lasting and positive change took many different forms. Here are just some of the initiatives that are changing the way we work and making health care more equitable and fair:
- Improving Maternal Health by partnering with the State and others at community events to distribute nearly 1,000 fully-stocked diaper bags to expectant mothers and offset fees for State ID cards for individuals in need. Provided financial support to the Children’s Home Society for three maternal health programs designed to improve outcomes for young Latinas. Launched a pilot program that is helping Black women in the Newark area at risk of experiencing maternal mental health conditions such as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, after delivery. Working in partnership with Newark Beth Israel Hospital, the pilot features post-discharge services, such as telephonic follow-ups and community-based referrals to help women overcome drivers of health that interfere with their access to care.
- Supporting Minority Health Entrepreneurs by investing in a minority-owned healthcare venture capital fund created by women and people of color that is focused on innovations to improve health for underserved communities.
- Offering our Black and Hispanic members access to more doctors who share their culture, history, race and ethnicity. More than 20% of new mental health professionals who joined Horizon’s network in 2022 identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color). Horizon continues to encourage providers in our network to self-report their backgrounds our members have more ways to get care from people who understand their unique challenges and needs.
- Preventing COVID-19 and other illnesses by hosting or sponsoring 31 events with community and pharmacy partners across New Jersey and providing COVID-19 and flu vaccines to people with limited access to care. Horizon organized an additional 69 events with community partners in underserved communities, where company volunteers, for example, helped local organizations fight food insecurity by preparing dinners, packing lunches, loading cars with groceries and serving the equivalent of 350,000 meals.
- Removing barriers to good health by connecting more than 7,000 members to community resources through the Neighbors in Health Program. The program has achieved more than 60,000 referrals for food/clothing, care coordination and rental and utility payment assistance, taking care of the most vulnerable in our community.
- Making hiring and advancement at Horizon more equitable by eliminating policies that favored education over experience or ability. Launched bias training initiatives for employees and the providers who care for our members.
We are holding ourselves accountable and remain focused on not only progress, but momentum. Change is in our DNA at Horizon. Just as we have for the last 90 years, we will continue to collaborate with our partners across the state to ensure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare no matter who they are or where they live.