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Premier Allergist, formerly The Allergy & Asthma Center, Joins AllerVie Health and Expands AllerVie Footprint to 10 States and 64 Locations

AllerVie Health

Today, AllerVie Health, a national network of board-certified allergists and immunologists, welcomes Premier Allergist, formerly The Allergy & Asthma Center, to its national platform. With the addition of Premier Allergist, AllerVie adds 32 locations to its provider network, enters three new states, and densifies their existing presence in Virginia and Florida. Dr. Prasad M. Nataraj, MD, the owner and founder of Premier Allergist, joins AllerVie Health and will be serving in a new executive leadership role where his expertise in increasing access to care through allergy clinic growth will help propel the company’s national network expansion. Dr. Nataraj attended medical school at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical School in India, completed his residency at Cornell Hospital in New York, and completed fellowship at the Louisiana State University – Tulane combination program. Dr. Nataraj and his wife Radhika built Premier Allergist over the past 26 years through relentless dedication to their calling to provide patients with state-of-the-art techniques for treatment, testing, and diagnosis of allergy, asthma, and related immunological disorders. "We are thrilled to be able to expand our phenomenal patient base and the care we provide to our patients by partnering with AllerVie Health,” said Dr. Prasad M. Nataraj. “We look forward to utilizing their resources to improve care for our current patients and to amplify our reach to new patients in our current and new markets.” All Premier Allergist providers will continue to practice medicine and provide exemplary allergy and immunology services to patients from their current locations throughout Maryland, D.C, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida, ensuring continuity of care for patients. By joining AllerVie Health, Premier Allergist will leverage AllerVie’s commitment to clinical research, innovation, and expansion of care allowing the combined organization to expand and enhance services to patients through new clinical research trials, innovative treatments, and other resources available across the nationwide network of providers. “AllerVie Health is a patient-first organization directed by and in support of board-certified allergists,” said Dr. Weily Soong, AllerVie Health Chief Medical Officer. “We believe that all people deserve access to evidence-based allergy diagnostics and treatments, as well as advancements in allergy therapeutics stemming from clinical research trials. With the inclusion of Premier Allergist to our network, we are thrilled to be adding new providers to our network who both believe and ensure that patients receive the best in life changing care every day - the ultimate AllerVie experience.” An organization of like-minded, patient-focused providers living out their commitment to improving people’s lives one patient at a time, AllerVie Health and Premier Allergist look forward to bringing more clinic access, job opportunities, and the gold standard of patient care to their communities. About AllerVie Health AllerVie Health is a national network of board-certified allergists and immunologists partnering together for the advancement of patient care, serving patients across 10 states in 64 clinic locations. Our providers are committed to establishing the allergy and immunology gold standard, expanding access to best-in-class care, and bringing relief and renewed vitality to the millions of Americans affected annually, many of whom live in underserved communities today. AllerVie is relentlessly dedicated to clinical excellence, creating an improved patient experience, and supporting the development of advanced allergy and immunology-focused therapeutics and treatment options. With AllerVie Health, our patients can feel their best, reclaim their lives, and live in freedom! To learn more, visit Contact Details Rachel Russell Chief Marketing Officer Weily Soong, MD Chief Medical Officer

December 06, 2021 12:00 PM Central Standard Time

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MetroPlusHealth Brings Behavioral Health Services In-house, Citing Need for Integrated Care of Body and Mind


MetroPlusHealth, New York City’s five-star health plan, announced today the successful completion of its year-long effort to bring behavioral health (BH) services in-house. Now, MetroPlusHealth staff, part of the largest BH provider in New York State – NYC Health + Hospitals – will be providing both BH and medical benefits to its more than 625,000 members. As New York City continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the integration of body and mind issues and coordinated care of both have become more important than ever before. Amidst an uptick in the utilization of BH services by its members, including a bump of nearly 85 % in BH telehealth services, a recent survey* conducted by MetroPlusHealth found that over 55% of New Yorkers believe the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. The transition to in-house BH services will help address the surge in BH-related issues, offering MetroPlusHealth members a more effective, holistic care experience, and will result in improved medical and mental health outcomes for members and greater efficiency for the health plan. The Plan’s approach to integrated care has already garnered significant success, earning national recognition for its innovation and, in New York State, the #1 ranking in quality. Over a nearly forty-year span, MetroPlusHealth has grown from a tiny pilot program working out of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Hospital to a major health insurer, covering hundreds of thousands of lives across the five boroughs. Delivering BH services to its members is the latest forward step in the steady evolution of one of New York City’s largest health plans. “Behavioral health benefits must be an integral component of our health plans. These services enable us to offer our members the full range of coordinated care,” said Dr. Talya Schwartz, President and CEO of MetroPlusHealth. “Our mission, as a health plan, embraces taking care of the complete person. When we care for the body, we can’t just ignore the mind. New York City has always been demanding, and its residents face many stresses. But COVID-19 has placed new pressures on the health care system, on New Yorkers, and our most vulnerable members, as well. As New York City’s homegrown health plan and proud New Yorkers ourselves, we quickly realized that these times require innovative thinking and approaches. Bringing BH in-house was one of the most critical initiatives we launched during the pandemic. Our members need our full attention to their care, and that includes their behavioral health.” MetroPlusHealth is committed to treating physical health and behavioral health as equally important to its members' wellbeing. Traditionally, these concerns have been managed separately by most health plans, with BH outsourced to vendors. Over the past eighteen months, MetroPlusHealth has done significant work to integrate a behavioral health model of care, which aims to heighten staff awareness and synergy to ensure that members’ physical and mental health issues are addressed together to improve care quality and efficiency. Under this new model of care, MetroPlusHealth now enlists and collaborates with its network of primary care physicians (PCPs) to identify behavioral health issues at the front lines. This will result in PCPs becoming more acutely aware of their patient’s behavioral health challenges and effectively starting recovery as soon as possible. Dr. Schwartz emphasized the advantages the new BH arrangement affords MetroPlusHealth’s participating providers. “We believe our new BH benefit management is less restrictive and more collaborative with our in-network providers. Less the stick approach with utilization management and more aligned with our providers through VBP contracting. This difference is not trivial, as credit for savings has to be split between physical health and BH, but our new BH model is more likely to be successful than when we outsourced behavioral health. Overall, the transition to in-house BH services is great for members, providers, and us. Definitely a win-win-win.” MetroPlusHealth’s decision to transition its behavioral health to in-house management “unlocks a new universe of quality and efficiency opportunities that would have been difficult to achieve with outside partners,” said Dr. Sanjiv Shah, Chief Medical Officer of MetroPlusHealth. “Having mental health services in-house puts mental and medical health on equal footing and importance. BH impacts physical health, and physical health impacts BH. We know that people with BH issues have significantly worse outcomes and shorter life spans. After cardiac events, patients frequently experience depression and anxiety and addressing those conditions may lead to better cardiac outcomes.” With in-house services, MetroPlusHealth’s BH experts can now screen for complications in real-time before conditions worsen, eliminating the issue of not having access to care because of insurance. They can also supplement medical treatment by addressing social determinants of health such as housing, food insecurity, and employment. “The new BH model,” said Dr. Shah, “will make it much easier for us to identify, monitor, and partner with our members in the successful treatment of their physical and mental health needs, and their social determinants, as well.” “Our team works closely with some of the Plan’s most at-risk members,” stated Anna Reyna, LCSW, CCM, Manager, ICM (Integrated Care Management) Task Force at MetroPlusHealth. “It’s so exciting to now have an in-house behavioral health department that can support our work with high risk, homeless members, who often have significant mental health and substance use disorders, alongside complex medical conditions. These members may need assistance with so many aspects of their care that it can be overwhelming and discouraging to people who are already struggling. An in-house behavioral health department that understands the challenges of our most vulnerable members, and can assist with their stabilization, is a tremendous advantage to our members.” MetroPlusHealth’s integrated BH program is designed to: Ensure access to a broad range of services like Home & Community-Based Services (HCBS), which support the acquisition of life skills, job training, employment support, social skills, and family therapy. Support Behavioral Health Children and Family Treatment and Support Services (CFTSS), an array of therapy, rehabilitation, and psychosocial services for children and youth under age 21. Create tailored partnerships for extremely vulnerable (e.g., formerly incarcerated and homeless), ensuring strong alignment/coordination with City agencies, H+H, and CBOs. Provide individualized and comprehensive care plans designed for each member, considering BH, Medical and Social Determinants of Health. Person-Centered Service Plan (PCSP) will emphasize shared decision-making approaches that empower members, provide choice and minimize stigma. Actively communicate with the member’s other care coordinators and providers to ensure health and wellness goals are met. Care coordination activities will be the foundation for care plans and foster individual responsibility for health awareness. Work with the provider community to provide member-specific feedback. MetroPlusHealth’s BH program and patient outcomes will: Provide a whole-person approach to treatment, prevention and wellness, including a focus on addressing social determinants. Reduce avoidable inpatient and emergency department utilization by ensuring effective care management, utilization management and access to quality providers. Promote recovery from substance use disorder through effective connection to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and/or outpatient treatment. Develop operational agreements with the provider community to align on effective rendering of evidence-based treatments. Besides the robust network of BH providers now available to them through their health plan, MetroPlusHealth members can also utilize MetroPlus Virtual Visit. This no-cost 24/7 telehealth program connects them to board-certified therapists and psychiatrists by smartphone, tablet, or computer. With COVID-19, it is essential that members always have access to telehealth. Virtual Visits enable members to get help when they need it, free of stigma and free of charge. Much of the mechanics of the BH transition to an in-house model may be clinical, Dr. Talya Schwartz pointed out. “But, ultimately, this transition is about ensuring that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, our members, our neighbors, get seamless access to the mental health services that now, more than ever, they need.” ### About MetroPlusHealth Since 1985, MetroPlus Health Plan has built a reputation for providing access to affordable, quality health care to residents across New York City. MetroPlusHealth is the plan of choice for over 625,000 New Yorkers and has a five-star rating based on the State’s 2020 Consumer’s Guide to Medicaid and Child Health Plus Managed Care Plans in New York City. The health plan’s robust network of primary care doctors and specialists includes many independent community providers. Culturally sensitive, and fluent in more than 40 languages, MetroPlusHealth’s staff is as diverse as the great city it serves. For more information about MetroPlusHealth plans, benefits, and services, visit and join the conversation at and Twitter @metroplushealth. MetroPlusHealth is part of NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest public health system. For a list of MetroPlusHealth locations and hours of operations, visit Research Methodology MetroPlusHealth’s 2021 Survey of Behavioral Health was conducted in September 2021 and consists of two distinct studies with the Geo-CARAVAN survey conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS. The NYC survey was among New York City DMA residents, 18 years of age and older. The general population survey was among a sample of 1,011 adults 18 years of age and older. The online omnibus study is conducted three times a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older. About ENGINE INSIGHTS ENGINE INSIGHTS is a collaborative and consultative research partner to hundreds of organizations around the globe. We possess a wide variety of resources, tools and technologies to collect and analyze information for our clients. As a member of the Insights Association and ESOMAR (the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research), ENGINE INSIGHTS adheres to industry ethics and best practices, including maintaining the anonymity of our respondents. Contact Details Divendra Jaffar 212-908-3380 +1 646-952-3243

December 06, 2021 11:23 AM Eastern Standard Time

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AmeriLife Welcomes Jim Palmer as President, Direct to Consumer


AmeriLife Group, LLC (“AmeriLife”), a national leader in developing, marketing, and distributing annuity, life, and health insurance solutions, today announced that it has hired Jim Palmer as President, Direct to Consumer. Palmer, reporting to AmeriLife Chief Marketing Officer Ovi Vitas, will partner with AmeriLife’s executive team and ownership group Thomas H. Lee Partners to lead AmeriLife’s growing direct-to-consumer business. In this newly created role, Palmer will assume day-to-day responsibility for AmeriLife’s national, direct-to-consumer platform that specializes in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement solutions. This platform represents the merger of Senior Healthcare Direct and MACC Insurance Services (previously an affiliate of The Equita Group), which were both acquired by AmeriLife in late 2020 and further augmented by technology investments made by AmeriLife. Palmer will also provide operational oversight over Senior Healthcare Direct – one of the fastest growing direct-to-consumer Medicare insurance brokerages in the industry – working closely with Founder and Chief Sales Officer Robert Bache (aka “Medicare Bob”) and Vice President and Head of Contact Center Enablement Christina Ragone to drive the growth and success of the business. “I’m excited to join one of the largest insurance distributors in the country and help grow and expand their direct-to-consumer capabilities,” said Palmer. “The direct-to-consumer space is rapidly growing and evolving, and I believe that AmeriLife is well positioned to capitalize on the growth opportunities across its multi-channel distribution network.” Palmer brings more than 20 years of insurance industry experience to AmeriLife. He most recently served in progressively senior roles at TRANZACT, where he spent more than a decade with P&L responsibility building and leading several lines of business across TRANZACT’s life and health insurance portfolios. Prior to TRANZACT, Palmer served as director at Carroll Enterprises, Inc., leading the company’s life insurance business focused on direct-to-consumer sales. "As we continue to build our world-class direct-to-consumer business, we couldn’t be more excited to add such a seasoned executive as Jim,” added Vitas. “Jim’s experience will undoubtedly bring greater efficiency to an already well-run business, and help us scale our DTC efforts across our network as we emerge from what is shaping up to be an extremely successful Annual Enrollment Period.” Palmer, who is also a licensed insurance agent, received his Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Ohio University. He currently serves as an advisory board member with the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business, and a business mentor for the Columbus, Ohio, chapter of SCORE Mentors. Palmer resides in Columbus with his wife Renee and their three children, Kara, Morgan and Brady. ### About AmeriLife AmeriLife’s strength is its mission: to offer insurance and retirement solutions to help people live longer, healthier lives. By putting its mission into practice, AmeriLife has become recognized as a national leader in developing, marketing, and distributing life and health insurance, annuities and retirement planning solutions to enhance the lives of pre-retirees and retirees. For 50 years, AmeriLife has partnered with the nation’s leading insurance carriers to provide value and quality to customers served through a national distribution network of over 250,000 insurance agents and advisors, over 40 marketing organizations, and nearly 50 insurance agency locations. Visit for more information, and follow AmeriLife on Facebook and LinkedIn. Contact Details AmeriLife Jeff Maldonado +1 321-297-1112 Company Website

December 06, 2021 09:30 AM Eastern Standard Time

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Hong Kong Successfully Hosts the 18th World Congress of Chinese Medicine for the First Time

Hong Kong Tourism Board

HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 6 December 2021 - The 18th World Congress of Chinese Medicine (WCCM), one of the world's largest academic events in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), was successfully held in Hong Kong for the first time at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on 4 December 2021. Officiating guests including: the Hon Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the People's Republic of China (6th from left), Mr. C Y Leung, GBM, GBS, JP, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the People's Republic of China (4th from right), Mr. Tan Tieniu, Vice Director of Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong S.A.R. (4th from left), Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, JP, Secretary for Food and Health of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, The People's Republic of China (3rd from right), Dr. Chui Tak-yi, JP, Under Secretary for Food and Health of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, The People's Republic of China (3rd from left), Dr. Ronald Lam, JP, Director of Health of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, The People's Republic of China (2nd from left), Dr. Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former Director-General of the World Health Organization (2nd from right), Ms. Feng Jiu, Permanent President of Hong Kong Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners Association (5th from left), Mr. Tommy Li Ying-sang, Chairman of the Federation of the Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Chinese Medicine Traders Association (1st from right), and Professor Lyu Aiping, Dean of School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University (1st from left) joined hands to kick off The 18th World Congress of Chinese Medicine. The 18th World Congress of Chinese Medicine Thanks to the bidding efforts of the Hong Kong Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners Association, which is a member of the Hong Kong Convention Ambassador (HKCA) programme, initiated by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), in collaboration with the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS), the hybrid event attracted more than 2,000 TCM academics and experts, generated over 3.8 million views from over 60 countries and regions. As physical gatherings resumed for the first time since the pandemic started, WCCM provided a platform for participants to engage in meaningful dialogue, covering TCM practices, benefits, opportunities and challenges, and the development potential of TCM. Mr. Ma Jianzhong, President of WFCMS, said, "We are pleased to host this edition of WCCM in Hong Kong for the first time. Embracing Chinese philosophy and culture, Hong Kong is the ideal place for academic and cultural exchanges to explore the way forward for furthering the global development of TCM, and its role in combating the pandemic through collaboration between practitioners and public sectors." Mr. Sang Binsheng, Vice President and Secretary General of WFCMS added, "Hong Kong is renowned for being the 'World's Meeting Place' thanks to its globally accessible and convenient transport network, large-scale world-class venues, facilities and professional services. We look forward to gathering again in Hong Kong and navigating the future of TCM development together." With its unrivalled fundamentals, Hong Kong is the core international city in the Greater Bay Area, a super-connector in the Belt and Road Initiative, and the ideal platform to promote TCM on the global stage. HKTB Executive Director Mr Dane Cheng said, "Hong Kong enjoys unique geographical and cultural advantages, and is the ideal destination for international conventions. Many such events have taken place recently, demonstrating Hong Kong's ability to host large-scale global events safely and efficiently. Apart from TCM, Hong Kong will continue to leverage the city's advantages as an East-meets-West showcase to promote the very best of Chinese heritage." The congress received extensive support from government and industry bodies. The National Administration of TCM and the Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau acted as advisors, and it was organised by the WFCMS, along with the Hong Kong Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners Association and the WFCM (Hong Kong) Council Members Association as local hosts. Hong Kong – A World-Class Medical Convention Hub Hong Kong is a cultural melting pot, bringing together the best that the world has to offer, demonstrating the true definition of 'East meets West', even in the field of medicine. With its high global professional standing in medical science, Hong Kong plays a bridging role to contribute to the further development of TCM, as well as many Western medical disciplines. This winter, the city will also play host to key medical conventions, including the International Annual Congress of the Endoscopic and Laparoscopic Surgeons of Asia (ELSA) 2021, and the Hong Kong International Dental Expo and Symposium (HKIDEAS) 2021, both of which are led by Convention Ambassadors of the two organisations under the HKCA programme. About the Hong Kong Convention Ambassador (HKCA) programme Initiated by the HKTB, the HKCA programme brings together distinguished leaders from business and professional bodies to make Hong Kong the premier choice for regional and global meetings, conventions and exhibitions. HKTB provides comprehensive professional support and services to HKCAs, from event planning, bidding and preparation to execution. For more details, visit Contact Details Hong Kong Tourism Board Ms Vanessa So +852 2807 6540

December 06, 2021 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

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How to Figure Out Medicare and Choose the Right Plan


Choosing a Medicare plan can feel overwhelming. Ten thousand baby boomers age into Medicare everyday with questions about getting the right, affordable healthcare coverage and finding a Medicare plan that fits their needs. Recently, Keira Krausz, the Chief Marketing Officer at ClearMatch™ Medicare, part of HealthPlanOne, teamed with YourUpdateTV on a satellite media tour to share tips on how to make this year’s Medicare enrollment less confusing. A video accompanying this announcement is available at: For nearly 63 million Medicare beneficiaries or individuals turning 65 who need affordable health plan coverage, Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period is here, and it will end in December 7 th. Choosing a Medicare plan can feel overwhelming. According to a recent survey, 58 percent of Medicare members say they don’t look forward to reviewing their Medicare plan, with 23 percent of people sharing that reviewing their plan is as delightful as having a colonoscopy. In 2019, 71 percent of Medicare beneficiaries said they didn’t compare plans during the open enrollment period, according to a Kaiser study published last month. Not comparing plans is a missed opportunity – because each year plans and benefits change – it’s important for individuals to compare their options, and a broker like ClearMatch™ Medicare can easily provide you a simple comparison of best plans. ClearMatch™ Medicare is committed to “de-complexify” Medicare for customers across the country. They match each customer with the right plan at the right place to deliver better health and peace of mind. The company can support customers throughout their Medicare journey, with a focus on the long-term. ClearMatch agents guide customers at every step of the way, from identifying and enrolling in a plan to reviewing coverage each year to make sure customers get all the benefits they deserve. To learn more about this year’s Medicare’s Annual Enrollment period and ClearMatch™ Medicare, go to: About Keira Krausz: An award-winning Direct-to-Consumer marketer, Krausz has spent her career focused on the melding of data-driven analytics and compelling creative. Krausz led the launch of the ClearMatch™ Medicare brand. The brand’s purpose is to match each customer with a Medicare plan that delivers the benefits the customer is entitled to, to support better health and deliver peace of mind. The company expects potential customers will benefit from its digital content and then leverage a hybrid approach – an ecommerce platform plus a licensed ClearMatch™ Medicare insurance agent – to gain a solid understanding of options and enroll in a plan. ClearMatch™ Medicare agents, supported by the company, then will build a long-term relationship with each customer to ensure satisfaction. From 2013-2018 Krausz was the CMO and EVP of Nutrisystem, Inc., where her team reversed a seven-year decline and returned the company to sustained growth, to nearly double revenue and quadruple EBITDA. Prior to Nutrisystem, Krausz held leadership positions at Time Inc. and the Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. Krausz attended Cornell University as an undergraduate and has an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. About YourUpdateTV: YourUpdateTV is a social media video portal for organizations to share their content. It includes separate channels for Health and Wellness, Lifestyle, Media and Entertainment, Money and Finance, Social Responsibility, Sports and Technology. Contact Details YourUpdateTV +1 212-736-2727

December 03, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

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Comcast Houston

Comcast's Internet Essentials program today announced the award of a $30,000 financial grant and donated 1,000 laptops to SERJobs, whose mission is to help individuals from low-income communities transform their lives through education training, employment, and financial empowerment services. The grant and donation are part of a new partnership to fund technical skills training and readiness certifications for clients of SERJobs. This program will offer digital skills training opportunities, including Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, Excel and professional development. “SERJobs is excited to celebrate 10 years of Comcast's Internet Essentials program,” said Sheroo Mukhtiar, CEO, SERJobs. “The Workforce Development Rally highlights the importance of digital literacy in our increasingly virtual world—especially as technology and the needs of our economy evolve. We are grateful to Comcast for their ongoing partnership and support of SERJobs’ and our members.” The announcement is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities; and coincides with the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, which has connected a cumulative total of more than 10 million people to the Internet at home – most for the very first time. Comcast’s expanded eligibility for Internet Essentials, now including all Federal Pell Grant recipients within its service area, will enable even more students to stay connected as they continue to pursue degrees at colleges, universities, and technical schools. “Ten years is a remarkable milestone, signifying an extraordinary amount of work and collaboration with our incredible community partners across Houston,” said Toni Beck, Vice President of External Affairs, Comcast Houston. “Together, we have connected hundreds of thousands of people to the power of the Internet at home, and to the endless opportunity, education, growth, and discovery it provides. Our work is not done, and we are excited to partner with SERJobs to ensure the next generation of leaders in Houston are equipped with the technical training they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.” Comcast’s top priorities are connecting people to the Internet at home, equipping safe spaces with free WiFi and working with a robust network of nonprofit community organizations, city leaders, and business partners to create opportunities for low-income Americans. As the nation’s largest internet provider, Comcast supports cooperation between communities, businesses and non-profit organizations to enhance digital equity. Comcast’s $1 billion commitment will include investments in several critical areas, including: additional support for the Lift Zone initiative, which establishes free WiFi access in 50 community centers in Houston, and 1,000+ community centers nationwide, for students and adults by the end of 2021; new laptop and computer donations; over $100,000 in digital equity grants for local Houston nonprofit community organizations to create opportunities for low-income Houstonians – particularly in media, technology, and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the company’s landmark Internet Essentials program. Project UP & Comcast’s $1 Billion Commitment to Advancing Digital Equity: For over a decade, connecting more people to the Internet and the technology they need to participate and excel in an increasingly digital world has been a core focus for the company. Looking toward the next ten years, Comcast is building on that foundation and expanding its impact through Project UP, a comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people, Project UP encompasses the programs and community partnerships across Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Sky that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators. For more information on Project UP and the latest news on efforts to address digital inequities visit About Comcast Corporation Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 57 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, Peacock, NBC News, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit for more information. About SERJobs: SERJobs Houston, a regional affiliate of SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc., is a nonprofit organization empowering individuals to transform their lives through education, training, employment, and financial empowerment services. Founded in 1965 as a volunteer job bank for Hispanic veterans, SERJobs has evolved, and now operates offices in Houston, Galveston and Fort Bend. SERJobs serves individuals in 13 Texas counties and assists more than 4,000 members access better opportunities every year. For more information, visit Contact Details Comcast Foti Kallergis +1 832-986-0196 SERJobs Christi Vasquez +1 832-890-3606 Company Website

December 02, 2021 09:01 AM Central Standard Time

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Regenerative Medicine Company Vascudyne Closes $10 Million Series A Financing

Vascudyne, Inc.

Investment will support expanded clinical trials of TRUE Graft, establish a commercial GMP manufacturing facility, and further develop the TRUE Tissue platform technology for additional products. Vascudyne, Inc., a biotechnology trailblazer in regenerative medicine, announced today that it has raised $10 million Series A cash financing through a global group of investors. In July, Vascudyne also announced the successful first human use of TRUE™ Graft for hemodialysis access in end-stage renal disease patients. Vascudyne’s early product development and preclinical studies were funded by angel investors. Since incorporation, Vascudyne transferred the regenerative technology, vertically integrated manufacturing, and launched TRUE Graft’s first human use clinical trial. Vascudyne’s TRUE to Nature™ biomaterials are unique and 100% natural. While other regenerative medicine cardiovascular devices contain synthetic polymer-based scaffolds that slowly degrade in the body and may lead to adverse immune response, Vascudyne’s TRUE™ Tissue technology is 100% biological: nothing synthetic or artificial is ever used in the manufacturing process. “We are thrilled that investors share our passion for bringing our TRUE Tissue platform technology to patients worldwide,” shared Rick Murphy, VP of Operations and GM of Vascudyne. “We are scaling up our GMP manufacturing facility to support the expansion of the clinical safety study of our TRUE Graft for hemodialysis access and accelerate new products towards clinical use that are currently in development for multiple cardiovascular applications.” “Closing the Series A finance round is a very exciting milestone for Vascudyne,” said Kem Schankereli, Chief Executive Officer of Vascudyne. “We are gaining momentum and paving the way to being able to supply our TRUE Tissue regenerative material technology to patients in need. The Series A funding provides the needed support to grow the organization so we can continue our clinical trials, expand operations, and translate additional products using our TRUE technology platform from pre-clinical to clinical trials.” Vascudyne licensed its proprietary TRUE Tissue technology developed by world renowned tissue engineering leader Robert Tranquillo, PhD, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and his colleagues from the University of Minnesota in 2017. The TRUE Graft is not available for commercial sale. About Vascudyne Headquartered in the heart of Medical Alley in Minnesota, Vascudyne is on a mission to improve patient care with regenerative biomaterials that are inspired by nature. Vascudyne, a privately held company founded in 2014, uses the TRUE™ Tissue technology to develop TRUE to Nature™ biomaterials for soft tissue repair and replacement. For more information, please visit About TRUE Tissue Technology TRUE™ Tissue is developed from cells isolated from donor tissue and is 100% biological. There are no synthetic materials or chemical fixation used, and implanted tissues are completely cell-derived and acellular. The TRUE Tissue technology can be readily shaped into tubes, sheets, and other geometries making it suitable for many soft tissue applications, is mechanically comparable to native tissues, and is a ready to use, off-the-shelf allograft. Forward Looking Statements This announcement contains forward-looking statements. Such statements may include, without limitation, statements identified by words such as "projects," "may," "will," "could," "would," "should," "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "estimates," "intends," "plans," "potential" or similar expressions. These statements relate to future events or Vascudyne’s clinical development programs, reflect management’s current beliefs and expectations and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause Vascudyne’s actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different. Vascudyne undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future presentations or otherwise, except as required by applicable law. Contact Details Vascudyne Sandy Williams, Marketing Director +1 952-412-5975 Company Website

December 02, 2021 09:23 AM Eastern Standard Time

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As Great Resignation Escalates, Maven Clinic and Great Place to Work® Release Study on What Parents Want in the New World of Work

Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work ®, the global authority on workplace culture, and Maven Clinic, the world's largest virtual clinic for women's and family health, released “Working Parents, Burnout & the Great Resignation,” a report based on the largest-ever survey of working parents. Drawing on the responses of 493,082 working parents from more than 1,700 US-headquartered companies, “Working Parents, Burnout & the Great Resignation” represents the authoritative look at what parents want in the new world of work. The new research comes at a time when the Great Resignation has reached new depths as recent reports suggest that 65% of employees in the US are actively searching for new opportunities. With parents making up 40% of the US economy, working mothers and fathers are no exception to this trend. As parents reconsider their relationship with work, companies face growing and new pressures to win the talent war for this key part of the workforce. “This report shows that the Great Resignation is fundamentally a crisis of recognition,” said Kate Ryder, founder and CEO of Maven. “Working parents who feel included within a company's culture and empowered in its long-term strategy are far more likely to stay with their employer. The companies that think about their employees’ experience holistically — the challenges at home, the opportunities at work — are set to leapfrog their peers in the post-pandemic economy.” “Working parents are a key talent demographic that can help companies thrive, and business leaders who see it this way are at a powerful advantage” said Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “Our research with Maven shows that ensuring working parents experience a great place to work for all can be achieved if employers shift their focus to the five key drivers to attract, retain and sustain working parents. Ultimately, companies that embrace strategies to ensure this talent group thrives long into the future have the potential to see 5.5 times more revenue growth.” The Great Place to Work-Maven report offers valuable insights about what matters most to parents —personalized support, fairness and inclusivity—and provides data-driven strategies for employers to emerge as leaders of the new way of working. Key findings from the report include: Burnout continues unabated, which means the resignation wave is far from over. Employees who experience burnout are more than twice as likely to resign their positions. The report finds that 4.8 million working parents are experiencing burnout as the year comes to a close. A holistic approach to employee wellbeing can prevent 4 out of 5 working parents from quitting. By studying the top-performing workplaces, the report identifies five key drivers of retaining and sustaining working parents, positioning this group for long-term growth. The Best Workplaces for Parents™ are doubling down on benefits — and seeing the results. Organizations that were perceived as offering ‘special and unique’ benefits were 2x as likely to retain parents. Three in four (75%) Best Workplaces are providing support for fertility programs and 66% offer adoption support. Many Best Workplaces are also offering benefits like egg freezing coverage (58%), subsidize child care expenses (44%), and provide surrogacy coverage (43%). Burnout has especially impacted mothers of color and young parents who are hourly workers, underscoring how the pandemic has exacerbated deep-seated inequities in the US. The report found that BIPOC mothers are 35% more likely to experience burnout, and younger parents between 26-34 working hourly roles are 200% more likely to experience burnout. The report is part of a multi-year partnership between Maven and Great Place to Work and marks the second annual study released by the two companies. The launch of “Working Parents, Burnout & the Great Resignation” also coincides with the release of Great Place to Work's annual Best Workplaces for Parents™ list, celebrating the 100 companies whose support for parents has stood out over the past year. Visit: About Maven Clinic Maven is the largest virtual clinic for women's and family health, offering continuous, holistic care for fertility, pregnancy and parenting. Maven's award-winning digital programs are trusted by leading employers and health plans to reduce costs and drive better health outcomes for both parents and children. Founded in 2014 by CEO Kate Ryder, Maven has been recognized as Fast Company's #1 Most Innovative Health Company and has supported more than 10 million women and families to date. Maven has raised more than $200 million in funding from leading investors including Sequoia, Oak HC/FT, Dragoneer Investment Group and Lux Capital. To learn more about how Maven is reimagining life's most critical healthcare moment, visit us at About Great Place to Work® Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. Since 1992, they have surveyed more than 100 million employees around the world and used those deep insights to define what makes a great workplace: trust. Great Place to Work helps organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. Everything they do is driven by the mission to build a better world by helping every organization become a Great Place to Work For All™. To learn more, visit, listen to the podcast Better by Great Place to Work, and read A Great Place to Work For All. Join the community on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Learn more: Contact Details Kim Peters +1 415-844-2574

December 02, 2021 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

Article thumbnail News Release

UK SMEs forge ahead with cautious optimism as post-pandemic business confidence grows

Stockwood Strategy

Despite lingering anxieties about the pandemic and a variety of economic and commercial issues, the majority of SMEs believe it is now imperative to begin building back from the crisis. They are ready to step up their business investment, with ambitious plans for recruitment, renewal of equipment and machinery, and both domestic and international expansion. Fintech business lender MarketFinance asked 2,000 SME owners across the UK about their outlook for 2022 and beyond, gauging their short and long-term plans for business investment and growth. MarketFinance has today released a comprehensive research report of its findings. Confidence Analysis of the survey results has shown that business confidence amongst SMEs is improving, with many firms now focused on recovery and growth. With pandemic disruptions now largely settled, half of SMEs (48%) expect their turnover to stabilise or to increase over the next 12 months. Similarly, 50% of SMEs expect demand for their products or services to stabilise or to increase over the next six months. MarketFinance’s research has found that the majority of SMEs (63%) expect their business to grow over the next three years Investment With survival mode no longer a necessity and cash flow pressures beginning to ease, the vast majority of SMEs (70%) now feel confident enough to increase business investment over the next 12 months. A quarter of SMEs plan to hire new staff, while 24% expect to purchase new equipment and machinery. When asked how they were factoring borrowing into their investment plans, 23% of SMEs said access to a broader range of borrowing options could enable them to increase investment even further. Borrowing The research findings demonstrate that borrowing will play a key role in recovery and growth with 62% of SMEs saying that prudent borrowing could help them fund growth. However, three quarters (71%) of SMEs do not believe traditional banking products are the most obvious and convenient way to borrow for investment. Despite this lack of alignment between current finance needs and the options available through traditional routes, more than a third of SMEs (37%) are looking to take on new borrowing facilities. Growth With confidence high and a sense of having moved beyond recovery and into a new stage of growth, many businesses are looking forward to seizing a host of opportunities in 2022. Almost all SMEs surveyed (81%) plan to invest in sustainability, while 30% say they are considering merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the year ahead – more than twice as many as those primarily focusing on organic growth (14%). Over a third of businesses (34%) say they already sell overseas, or have plans to begin doing so. That figure is highest amongst the largest businesses surveyed (turnover between £5m and £6.5m) but even amongst smaller enterprises significant numbers are focused on export. Anil Stocker, CEO at MarketFinance, commented: “ It’s clear that the business environment has shifted and SMEs are looking ahead with a quietly confident and cautiously optimistic view. UK businesses intend to ramp up growth through domestic and international expansion, digital transformation and even M&A activity. But as they reset their post-pandemic goals for a post-pandemic, they’ll need to be confident of their funding base. Given that so many SMEs are looking outside of traditional routes in their search for finance, we’re particularly proud to have been accredited by the British Business Bank as one of the few alternative providers under The Recovery Loan Scheme. Schemes like the RLS are a golden opportunity for SMEs looking to gear up for growth, providing easily accessible funding at a lower cost across a wide range of products. We expect to see a large number of SMEs taking advantage of the scheme over the next 6 months as their growth and expansion efforts gain momentum and they invest in ambitious plans for 2022 and beyond.” About MarketFinance MarketFinance is a fintech business lender which believes that SMEs are building the world. By making finance frictionless, they’re solving the cash flow issues getting in the way of progress. MarketFinance uses smart technology to deliver better access to faster, more affordable finance; with one-to-one help whenever businesses need it. Since 2011, MarketFinance has advanced over £2.6 billion worth of invoices and loans, enabling thousands of UK businesses to bridge today’s funding gaps and fuel tomorrow’s big ambitions. MarketFinance is an accredited Recover Loan Scheme lender and has a wide-reaching network of strategic partners including Barclays Bank UK PLC, Tide, Equals Group and Ebury. MarketFinance is backed by Barclays Bank UK PLC, Mouro Capital, Paul Forster (co-founder of European venture capital fund Northzone (invested in Klarna, iZettle and Trustpilot), Viola Capital and private equity group MCI Capital (also invested in iZettle, Azimo and Gett). Further information visit: Contact Details MarketFinance Bilal Mahmood +44 7714 007257 Company Website

December 01, 2021 08:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

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