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Jewish Healthcare Foundation

Jewish Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees Approves $1,333,000 in Grants

September 1, 2015

(Pittsburgh –September 1, 2015)  The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) Board of Trustees approved six grants totaling $1,333,000, including grants to: engage community organizations and teens in messaging that promotes healthy behaviors; launch a multimedia project to increase education and awareness around breast and ovarian cancer, with a focus on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations; develop a JHF Data Science Fellowship program at the University of Pittsburgh; share the Foundation’s 25-year journey in improving health and health care through a multimedia communications initiative; renew the Foundation’s multidisciplinary fellowship and internship programs; and renew the Foundation’s fair share contribution to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s annual budget.

Adolescent Health Initiative: Creating Messages that Promote Positive Health Behaviors

JHF will provide funding and staff resources for a multi-year initiative designed to engage local organizations and youth in developing communications messages and programs to promote healthy behaviors. The Foundation is currently meeting with leaders in the adolescent health community (including those in public health, academia, and medicine) to determine how best to leverage their expertise and resources, and discuss grant proposals for the initiative. JHF will provide grants to local community organizations who develop creative strategies for engaging teens as well as the friends, family, schools, and neighborhood leaders who influence them.

“Adolescence is a time of self-discovery and experimentation, and also a period where health habits can become ingrained,” says JHF President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD. “Behavior patterns established during those teenage years – including nutrition, physical activity, alcohol, tobacco, and drug consumption, and sexual behaviors – help determine a person’s health status and risk for developing chronic diseases in adulthood. Our goal is to motivate teens to take control of their health – to realize that they have the power to make wise choices each day that will pay off for years to come.”

The first grant funded under the initiative will be provided to the Allegheny County Health Department, which will engage 15 youth between the ages of 13-19 as leaders in community health improvement as part of the Live Well Allegheny Teen Corps. Selected teens will both develop and deliver messages to youth in the Pittsburgh region to help them cultivate lifelong, health-promoting habits. The teens will receive an orientation to public health, communication, and health campaigns, and will then identify pressing health issues facing their peers. They will have the opportunity to partner with SHIFT Communications, a public relations firm, to craft their health messages and develop a plan to reach mass audiences. Additional adolescent health grants will be announced in the months to come.


BRCA1 and BRCA2 Education and Testing Options: The Breast Test Revisited – An Original Documentary and Community Education Initiative

In 1991, JHF partnered with WQED, the local Public Broadcasting Service station, to create The Breast Test – a breast cancer detection, screening, and outreach project. The initiative included a one-hour documentary and call-in panel with local health experts that informed thousands of women across Pennsylvania about the importance of early breast cancer detection, screening methods, and the expected results of treatment. The Breast Test also served as a community catalyst for women’s health issues, with a coalition of organizations forming to perform education and outreach activities for the initiative. Leaders from the National Council of Jewish Women and JHF helped launch Race for the Cure in Pittsburgh, which continues to raise awareness and funding.

Twenty-five years after The Breast Test, JHF will once again partner with WQED to explore advances in breast cancer detection and treatment, with a particular focus on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations. JHF and WQED will develop a one-hour documentary to address questions relating to screening, counseling, and treatment options for BRCA1 and BRCA2. The documentary will be followed by a panel discussion and call-in session with local healthcare experts. WQED will also develop an interactive, online component of the project, which will connect healthcare professionals with patients and other experts from around the country through real-time commenting systems, social media, and webinars. JHF will encourage local screenings of the documentary, to be hosted by women’s organizations and moderated by healthcare experts. 

Women who inherit a harmful mutation of BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a significantly higher risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer during their lifetime compared to those who do not, and these mutations tend to develop at a younger age than nonhereditary mutations. Genetic testing is available for BRCA1 and BRCA2, and screenings are covered under the Affordable Care Act for individuals who have family members with the mutation.

“We have made incredible progress in cancer awareness and treatment since The Breast Test, but considerable uncertainty remains for individuals and families as it relates to BRCA1 and BRCA2,” Dr. Feinstein says. “Who should be screened, and when? What actions can people take based on their results, and what insurance and legal protections do they have? By working with our longtime partners at WQED, we will inform, educate, and encourage a spectrum of stakeholders. We want to ignite a dynamic, ongoing conversation that will bring clarity to these pressing questions.”


The JHF Data Science Fellowship: An Inter-professional Training Program in Big Data, Healthcare Analytics, and Personalized Medicine 

Over the past 25 years, JHF has provided seed funding for a number of academic courses to enhance curriculum and prepare young professionals for an ever-evolving healthcare environment. These efforts include funding the first courses in patient-provider communication and geriatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. To prepare health professionals for an era of big data, health analytics, and personalized medicine, the Foundation will provide funding to the University of Pittsburgh to develop a JHF Data Science Fellowship program.

The JHF Data Science Fellowship program will engage students from a range of disciplines (including medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and public health) in sessions that will equip them with the skills to analyze and act upon health data, as well as translate genomic testing into clinical practice. The University of Pittsburgh will recruit up to 40 fellows for the first cohort from multiple professional education programs in the region, as well as local health professionals working at hospitals and within health systems.

The program will be housed in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biomedical Informatics and the Pittsburgh Biomedical Informatics Training Program (PBMITP). PBMITP is one of only 12 programs currently funded by a training grant from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health for pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students in biomedical informatics.

“A profusion of new health data, coupled with advances in treatments tailored to specific populations, hold tremendous potential to improve patient care and support a shift towards value-driven health care,” Dr. Feinstein says. “But these gains will only be realized if we provide young health professionals with a platform to learn about and apply concepts related to big data, analytics, and personalized medicine in an interdisciplinary setting. Through our partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, we want to establish a model of excellence that other academic health centers across the country can adopt.”


JHF at 25: Past Forward

It has been 25 years since JHF was created with the proceeds from the sale of Pittsburgh’s Montefiore Hospital. To reflect on ways that the Foundation and its many partners have strived to enhance health and health care in the Pittsburgh region and beyond, and continue its tradition of confronting urgent health topics, JHF will provide funding for a variety of communications projects, including:

  • A special edition of the JHF’s ROOTS magazine which will tell the story of the JHF’s founding and journey over the past 25 years in the words of trustees, community leaders, partners, and staff. The publication will be distributed in the Fall of 2015.
  • A year-long education series in the Jewish Chronicle, which will celebrate JHF’s founders and its collaborative efforts to enhance the health and wellness of the Jewish community
  • A book highlighting the efforts of individuals and organizations who laid the groundwork for the sweeping health reforms implemented through the Affordable Care Act
  • A series of education spots on health care, to be aired on WESA-NPR Radio. JHF will provide funding to WESA to hire an editorially independent healthcare correspondent, who will create stories that will air during the station’s Morning Edition and/or All Things Considered segments. The healthcare correspondent will also conduct interview segments on WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh.


JHF Fellowship Programs/Summer Internship Grant Renewal

JHF and its supporting organizations, the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI) and Health Careers Futures (HCF), offer multidisciplinary graduate students a variety of fellowship and internship programs that provide opportunities to learn and apply methods that enhance the quality, safety, an efficiency of health care. Under the guidance of JHF staff, expert mentors, and community partners, more than 750 students and health professionals have participated in the Foundation’s four annual fellowships, and more than 100 have taken part in summer or semester-long internships.

In recognition of the role that these fellowship and internship programs play in creating healthcare change agents and providing students with experiences not offered in the classroom, JHF has renewed grant funding for the programs through the summer of 2018. In addition to a 12-student summer internship that provides opportunities to meaningfully contribute to ongoing JHF projects, these offerings include:

  • Jonas Salk Fellowship (established in 2001): Participants consider solutions to major population health problems by learning and applying four problem-solving lenses with community experts: social advocacy, crisis management, predictive modeling, and disruptive innovation.
  • Patient Safety Fellowship (2001): Participants engage in Perfecting Patient CareSM (PPC), PRHI’s  flagship curriculum to continually improve healthcare safety, efficiency, and quality. Fellows have the opportunity to work with local healthcare leaders who are actively engaged in applying quality improvement tools to advance patient care. Fellows also apply PPC methodology in real time at local healthcare facilities.
  • QI2T Health Innovators Fellowship (2013): Students with backgrounds in health, business, design, law, engineering, and other disciplines develop technology solutions to persistent issues in health care. Small teams of students work with accomplished entrepreneurs, receive mentorship from expert health professionals, and pitch to a panel of judges from the health IT industry, venture capital, and academia for a cash prize.
  • Fellowship on Death & Dying: The Elephant in the Room (2014): Participants explore the medical, legal, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of death and dying so that they can improve the end-of-life care system within their own organizations. The fellowship is modeled after JHF’s Closure model, which seeks to raise expectations for end-of-life care through community forums, education, and outreach.

“Through our fellowship and internship programs, our mission is to fill gaps in current health education, prepare students to work in multidisciplinary teams, and cultivate an ‘army’ for the healthcare revolution,” Dr. Feinstein says. “A number of students have completed multiple fellowships and remain connected to the Foundation well after graduation, returning as speakers, recruiters, program planners, and mentors. And demand for these programs continues to grow each year.”

Allegheny Conference on Community Development Grant Renewal

JHF has been represented on the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD), a non-profit comprised of regional leaders committed to improving the quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania, since Dr. Feinstein became the first woman to sit on its Board and Executive Committee in 1997. During her tenure, the ACCD has prioritized increasing healthcare quality and access, cultivating the healthcare workforce, and developing the infrastructure necessary to turn world-class research into products that improve lives and fuel the economy.

Along with other public, private and philanthropic groups, JHF has provided a fair share contribution to the ACCD's budget since 2003. With this grant, the Foundation will continue to support the ACCD's efforts to improve the health of western Pennsylvanians, which include monitoring the implementation of healthcare reform and informing members about healthcare issues affecting employers.

Available for Interviews:  Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD, President and CEO, Jewish Healthcare Foundation

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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