Jewish Healthcare Foundation Adapts During COVID-19 Pandemic

JHF staff work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In these unprecedented times, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) remains steadfast to its mission and has been adapting all its primary initiatives to support healthcare workers and at-risk populations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. JHF staff have rallied to quickly translate interactive in-person learning sessions and coalitions into virtual platforms. Within a week, the quarterly Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative went from a two hundred in-person session in Harrisburg into an engaging virtual conference. Other statewide learning collaboratives like the Patient Centered Medical Home Learning Network and the Center of Excellence Learning Network are also converting to virtual sessions, and they have begun to serve as key networks for collaboration on COVID-19 resources.

The first group of board meetings in 2020 at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and its supporting organizations demonstrated the ways COVID-19 has quickly forced adaptations. The Health Careers Futures board meeting on March 11 was mostly an in-person meeting, with only a few calling in remotely. The following day the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative board met with half of the attendance calling in virtually. Two weeks later, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation board met on March 30 for its first-ever completely virtual board meeting. Nevertheless, the boards have continued their guidance and support of the Foundation's work throughout this crisis, and they have approved a new COVID-19 Emergency Fund to address immediate needs due to the pandemic.

With the critical threat upon seniors, JHF has continued its advocacy for increased funding for skilled nursing facilities, including a new grant to create a short, fact-based, and action-oriented case for funding that can go to legislators. Many of the Foundation's aging initiatives have moved into virtual engagement, including dramatically expanding the Virtual Senior Academy, and launching Dementia Friends virtual training across the Commonwealth.

The SWERVE initiative takes on new level of urgency in the face of this crisis. The third session that was planned for April 2nd in San Francisco was converted into a virtual session that allowed for additional participants to join and a new agenda focused on leveraging a National Patient Safety Authority to address emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on these efforts, the upcoming Patient Safety Fellowship will focus on examining leadership within a patient safety emergency.

The upcoming regional healthcare innovation summit, Liftoff PGH 2020, has been postponed until December 15th and 16th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Liftoff PGH team has been busy highlighting the unique partnerships and innovations that have arisen during our region's urgent response to the coronavirus.

The Adolescent Behavioral Health Initiative is maintaining its regular advocacy calls with the Youth Advocacy Network, and JHF staff are working closely with community partners involved with the 15217 neighborhood-based teen mental health initiative (recently renamed UpStreet) to provide virtual resources to teens during this time.

The HIV/AIDS team has no disruption to its service delivery, and JHF staff are checking in daily with partners and clients to ensure needs are being met on the ground. Many services the HIV/AIDS team supports have become virtual, and there has been an expansion of telehealth and curbside resources.

WHAMglobal is shifting its upcoming WIC Summit into a series of WIC Webinars in May and continuing to move forward with its Safer Childbirth Cities initiatives.

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, JHF will continue to leverage its resources to support the health of the Pittsburgh region and the broader community across Pennsylvania and the nation. 

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