“Our goal is to be where the community is.”
So said Darlene Demore, director of regulatory communications for the health insurance company, Aetna, from the back of a 38-foot RV known as Cora.
“We are Aetna Cares,” she said. “We go where the people are.”
Cora is a mobile health clinic, a joint project between Aetna and the marketing/communications firm, Latino Connection. Together, they are taking good health on the road, traveling throughout central PA and the entire commonwealth.
When first stepping into the RV, guests are greeted by a smoothie bar stocked with fresh fruit. To the right is a Wii setup for “Dance Dance Revolution,” “Guitar Hero” and other interactive games. Toward the back of the vehicle is a sitting area with four pairs of virtual reality goggles.
Outside of Cora is a bio-measuring machine. In less than a minute, the machine produces a ticket with with your height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage, as well as your ideal weight and BMI.
“We’re just educating people on how to take better care of their health in a fun and approachable way,” Demore said. “We want to help remove any kind of barriers that stop people from being the best that they can be.”
The name Cora stems from the word “corazon,” meaning heart in Spanish. According to George Fernandez, Latino Connection’s CEO, the name reflects Aetna’s commitment to the health of the community.
“I knew I wanted to name [the RV] something people can relate to,” he said. “This is a way for Aetna to engage not only their members but the community at large.”
The idea of Cora came from Jason Rottman, CEO of Aetna Better Health of Pennsylvania, who wanted the company to bring a healthy experience to the community. That idea grew into a smoothie bar, which grew even further to become the 38-foot vehicle people visit today.
Cora debuted in early June in Lebanon. Today, less than a month later, more than 5,000 people have visited Cora, with more than 1,000 BMIs measured.
“The BMI machine has been very successful,” Demore said. “It’s something about seeing that number on paper that motivates you.”
Fernandez recalled the time that Cora was able to engage a child with autism.
“He was having a bad day,” he said. “It was super hot outside, and he was having sort of a flare up moment where he wanted to just go home. The parents were actually leaving, and a volunteer helped them to come aboard Cora and told them about Cora’s experience.”
In just a few minutes, the child did not want to leave.
“He stayed on for about 45 minutes, a little bit longer than someone who typically comes aboard Cora,” Fernandez said smiling. “But it made his day, and it made his family’s day.”
Cora is at the “Welcome America” festival in Philadelphia until July 4. The event is estimated to bring in over 250,000 people over the course of three days.
Cora has an additional 50-plus stops scheduled until mid-December. Demore is hoping to expand Cora’s stops for another year and add new features such as dental screenings and blood pressure and glucose checks.
“If we can help one person or a million people, it doesn’t matter,” Demore said. “Even if we make one person make a change in their life, one healthy change or have one moment where they think, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ That’s golden.”
To find out where Cora will be next, visit https://aet.na/betterhealthpa