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JHF Supports Healthcare Workers & Families with COVID-19 Emergency Fund

Masks being delivered to Pittsburgh as part of the Protective Mask Fund – photo courtesy of Allegheny Conference on Community Development

During the largest and most urgent public health crisis of our time, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) is working closely with local partners to meet immediate needs of healthcare workers and families in the community. 

JHF is focusing its funding efforts primarily through its longtime community partners in the Pittsburgh region in accordance with the greatest identified needs that 1. may save lives, 2. support workers who save lives, 3. demonstrate immediate impact and have short term implications, and 4. do not replace government funding. 

Following this criterion over the past month, JHF has supported frontline workers through grants to the Jewish Association on Aging, Central Outreach Wellness Center, the Association of Jewish Aging Services, and a contribution to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development's Protective Mask Fund. These contributions provide additional PPE to essential workers, assist with staffing challenges, and provide meals and assistance to frontline workers.

Funds have also been designated to support the wellness of families in the region through grants to the Allegheny County Parks Foundation, A+ Schools, and Allegheny Intermediate Unit. These funds support the community with safe and open spaces in which to exercise, creative programs to meet the needs of families and students, and help with student connection and activities.

Beyond these immediate, short-term grants, JHF has issued a grant to The LeadingAge LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston to develop a short, fact-based, and action-oriented case that details how nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are dramatically underfunded. This supports both the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the long-term vision of supporting and improving care for frail seniors.

Seniors are also being supported through grants to Venture Outdoors and the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greater Pittsburgh. Venture Outdoors has received funding to expand the Fit with a Physician series which invites participants on walks through local parks with a healthcare provider as the guide. Outside activity is more important than ever, particularly for isolated seniors, and in the short-term Venture Outdoors have begun offering virtual walks on the Virtual Senior Academy. The JCC will receive funding to ensure the long-term sustainability and increased programming of the Virtual Senior Academy, a community resource that grown in value and scale for the many isolated residents in Allegheny County.

JHF also issued a $101,000 grant to support the research team of Toren Finkel, MD, PhD and Bill Chen, PhD at the Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services and the University of Pittsburgh as they work to identify FDA approved compounds that can treat COVID-19. In what may be the most rapid and effective near-term approach to treat COVID-19, the research aims to identify current FDA approved drugs that can be repurposed to block viral entry and infectious spread.

The fight to protect lives and end this virus will continue over the days and months ahead, and JHF will continue to identify efforts with its community partners that can make an immediate impact. 

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