An Unconventional Bloom: The Jewish Healthcare Foundation Confronts a Pandemic

The newest ROOTS publication chronicles the Jewish Healthcare Foundation's work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the digital publication is now available online. Physical copies are forthcoming this fall. Read on for the introduction:

Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic froze the world in March 2020, it became frighteningly clear that the U.S. federal government did not intend to take command. All the critical components—supplies, logistics, precautions, regulations, and support for the basic functions of daily life in quarantine—were devolved to states and localities.

For the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF), a philanthropic and activist organization in Pittsburgh, the pandemic pandemonium that ensued reinforced longstanding concerns and dismal statistics about the national safety net. An already fractured system was further stressed and exposed, and on top of the imminent threat of disease from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, many of the Foundation's focus areas were brought into the spotlight. JHF's three nonprofit operating arms, each with a governing board, engaged their combined 120 staff and Board members to launch a response.

JHF saw an opportunity to create both immediate and long-term solutions in patient safety, senior living, pregnancy care, teen behavioral health, and HIV/AIDS care. However, this would go beyond grantmaking and business as usual. The staff and Board members deployed their collective skills and knowledge to respond to a health crisis like no other.

JHF's work over the past year ranged from regional programs to statewide networks, to advocacy efforts for national policy transformation. The Foundation proposed solutions to prove that progress is possible; engaged key stakeholders and started action groups; advanced the work of community and regional partners; and expanded interest and communicated plans broadly.

As we enter the next stage of living and working through a pandemic, we take pause for a moment of reflection on this journey and how JHF found opportunities in 18 months of chaos.

Read the full ROOTS publication here.

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