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Jewish Healthcare Foundation

Jewish Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees Approves $481,000 in Grants

March 24, 2015

Pittsburgh, PA –  On March 24, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) Board of Trustees approved three new grants, including a one-year grant to Pittsburgh Filmmakers for PublicSource to add healthcare expertise and coverage to their investigative reporting team, a grant to Creative Nonfiction for publication of a volume of personal narratives that will bring the voices of those dealing with severe mental illness into the mainstream, and a grant to develop a new JHF Champions program that will focus on enhancing the skills of regional community health workers (CHWs) to improve the care and health outcomes of seniors in home and community settings.

Community Health Workers: Enhancing the Workforce to Better Serve Our Community's Seniors

JHF has long understood the vital role that champions play in conceiving, testing, and evaluating new healthcare models. As a demonstration of JHF's commitment toward supporting such leaders, the Foundation has funded a number of educational/Champions programs to enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of area healthcare providers: the Physician Champions, Nurse Navigator, Pharmacy Agents for Change, EMS, Long Term Care and MA/LPN Champions. Each program was aimed at supporting exemplary individuals committed to the highest levels of patient quality. These Champions have pursued projects to improve quality in high-cost areas of health care. They solved problems, led improvements at the point of patient care, and accelerated this improvement institutionally by forming a community network and serving as leaders in their organizations.

The grant approved by the JHF Board of Trustees will support the development and implementation of JHF's newest Champions program—the Community Health Worker (CHW) Champions—which will focus on enhancing the skills of area CHWs to improve the care and outcomes for community-dwelling seniors.

The use of CHWs as a vital component of the U.S. healthcare system has been documented for decades. CHWs can improve population health; lower healthcare costs by reducing emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and institutionalizations; and improve patient experience, primarily among high utilizers, but also in rural areas where access to health care is limited. They also free clinical team members to practice at the top of their license. However, despite CHWs' potential to deliver many solutions to the current health care system's shortcomings, their work is largely underutilized.

"By 2050," says Dr. Feinstein, "the number of people who are over the age of 65 will be almost double what it was in 2012; and the possibility of seniors and their substantial healthcare needs overwhelming hospitals, nursing homes, and the elderly's own middle-aged children or other family caregivers is very real.

"There is tremendous opportunity to use CHWs to help slow the rate of age-related decline in vulnerable seniors by ensuring that they have the resources they need as they age in place – including connections to community resources and help with navigating the healthcare system when necessary."

This first phase of the grant will begin following a statewide invitation-only Summit on CHWs that JHF is holding in April 2015 in Harrisburg, PA, the goal of which is to outline elements of a standardized CHW training curriculum, certification, and reimbursement mechanism to promote the use of CHWs in the Commonwealth's healthcare and social service systems. JHF will create an advisory group of experts in senior services—those involved in home-and-community based care as well as those from the clinical healthcare sector—who will work with the Foundation to identify the factors that predict hospital and nursing home admissions for seniors, and to develop a competency-based CHW training curriculum and service delivery model focused on preventing hospitalizations and avoidable institutionalization for community-dwelling seniors.

The training curriculum and service delivery model (the CHW Champions Program) will then be pilot-tested as a two-year demonstration with select local agencies.

"Once the model and curriculum are refined based on that pilot phase," noted Dr. Feinstein, "JHF will submit this CHW model for statewide adoption."

Pittsburgh Filmmakers for PublicSource: Cultivating Informed, Empowered Healthcare Consumers

PublicSource, which operates under the Pittsburgh Filmmakers' 501(c)(3) tax status, was created in 2011 to cultivate informed communities across Pennsylvania. It is becoming a leading investigative news organization, providing Pennsylvania citizens with balanced, analytical, and in-depth information that readers do not receive from other news platforms. Their stories reach millions of readers through their own website and email newsletter, and the websites and airwaves of more than 40 media partners across Pennsylvania. Its newest partner, the Kaiser Family Foundation, which will publish PublicSource's healthcare-related stories in their email newsletter, Kaiser Health News, has national reach.

The news business is changing. While Americans traditionally turned to print, radio, and television for, those platforms are increasingly vulnerable as young and old alike stay informed through online and digital sources. Many outlets have responded to this shifting media landscape and 24/7 access by churning out more news. But in focusing on content quantity, depth of coverage has suffered. Reporters have significantly less time to cover critical issues thoroughly and examine how the policy affects individuals, leading to stories that may not equip citizens with the knowledge to make informed decisions that benefit themselves, society, and the state.

This grant will enable PublicSource to bring on resources in order to deliver in-depth stories on healthcare-related issues that affect the well-being of all Pennsylvanians, with the goal of facilitating informed and empowered consumers.

Bringing the Challenges of Serious Mental Illness into the Mainstream

Creative Nonfiction (CNF), through its publications and educational offerings, aims to create an understanding of our world through thoughtful, engaging nonfiction prose on a wide variety of topics and real-life experiences.JHF and CNF have collaborated on six anthologies over the past twelve years, advancing the Foundation's agenda concerning patient safety and quality, workforce, and end-of-life issues.

Most recently, JHF and CNF collaborated on a volume that features essays by writers with insights into the nature and experience of profound psychiatric challenges—as told from the perspective of the professionals who treat such disorders and conditions. As with each book, narratives from writers across the world were evaluated for inclusion in this volume. Hundreds of insightful and compelling essays were submitted for this newest book, making it difficult to select the limited number of essays to include in Same Time, Next Week. This grant supports the publication of a companion volume to Same Time, Next Week that will feature stories of mental illness from the perspective of patients and families.

"Together," noted JHF President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD, "these creative nonfiction works can help us to reduce the stigma of severe mental illness, provide hope, and demonstrate that severe mental illness does not equate to a curse. It is possible to change the target from sedation to "cure," from persistent to transitory."

About The Jewish Healthcare Foundation

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) is a public charity that offers a unique blend of research, education, grantmaking and program management to advance the quality of clinical care and health of populations, with a focus on improving the quality, efficiency, and safety of health care. JHF and its three operating arms—the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI), Health Careers Futures (HCF), and the Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal)— are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and serve a national and global audience. JHF is also a founding member of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI). For more information, visit www.jhf.org.

David Golebiewski
Jewish Healthcare Foundation
412-594-2553 or 412-216-6305 (mobile)

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