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Henry L. Hillman Foundation Grants JHF $120,000 for Contact Tracing

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation recently approved a contribution in the amount of $120,000 to the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh (JHF), to support the Southwestern Pennsylvania COVID-19 Contact Tracing Consortium.

Led by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) and JHF, the Consortium first mobilized in May 2020 to support and scale contact tracing efforts in Southwestern Pennsylvania. JHF Chief Policy Officer Robert Ferguson was a key player in convening the Consortium's more than 100 members, who joined forces to better equip the region to address COVID-19 cases. The Consortium is the first of its kind to support contact tracing in the Commonwealth.

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation grant will support the Consortium as it continues to monitor the number of available vs. needed contact tracers, ensures the workforce matches the region's diversity, disseminates key messages and resources, supports the ongoing skill development of contact tracers, and builds a regional safety net of social and behavioral health services to link people to when they self-quarantine. The members will also develop a long-term plan and pipeline for the contact tracing corps that could be re-deployed to respond to other public health priorities over time. Most recently, the Consortium heard from representatives of 11 colleges and universities in the region, who shared details from their contact tracing efforts during the school year. Many schools are setting up designated housing areas for students who need to isolate following a positive test. The Consortium facilitates a space for these institutions to share their learning and best practices with other Consortium members.

JHF President and CEO Karen Feinstein said, "This grant supports a vital part of the state pandemic response. The Consortium came from a recognition that our regional contact tracing system required urgent attention to respond to the rising number of cases and the demand for tracers. If we are to cohesively address the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, the same approach must now be applied across the Commonwealth."

While this new grant will provide the Consortium with crucial support, there are still gaps in Pennsylvania's contact tracing services, which present barriers to developing a robust and highly effective response to the continuing spread of COVID-19. We applaud the engagement and commitment of the Consortium members thus far and call for additional progress to better assure the safety of Pennsylvanians.

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