After 25 years of working to improve the trajectory of health care in Pittsburgh and beyond, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation has a lot to celebrate.
Supporters gathered to do just that at JHF headquarters in Centre City Tower downtown last Tuesday evening, toasting the Foundation and its staff, which has been under the direction of president and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein since its launch in 1990.
Feinstein took the podium to address the roomful of trustees, community leaders and other advocates for health care, reflecting upon the numerous achievements though the years of the JHF in education, training and grant making.
Feinstein recalled the Foundation’s early days as an organization created from the sale of Montefiore Hospital to the University of Pittsburgh’s health system, and how she and her staff built the JHF from the ground up to become a world-class think tank.
Beginning with $75 million in proceeds from the sale of the hospital, the JHF has distributed $101 million in grants over its 25 years and has garnered $101 million in funds to put back into the community, Feinstein said.
To accomplish its mission of advancing the quality of clinical care and the health of populations, the JHF’s current focus is promoting safety, best practices and efficiency at the front line of care, and the Foundation’s most recent grants reflect this mission. Last week, the JHF board of trustees announced the awarding of six grants totaling $1.33 million, including $500,000 that will fund a multiyear initiative to engage community organizations and teens in messaging that promotes healthy behaviors.
“Adolescence is a time of self-discovery and experimentation, and also a period where health habits can become ingrained,” Feinstein said in a prepared statement. “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.”
Another grant announced last week, in the amount of $150,000, will advance a multimedia project to increase education and awareness of breast and ovarian cancer, focusing on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations, which are more common in Ashkenazi Jews than in the general population.
In commemoration of its 25 years of service, the JHF awarded a $145,000 grant for a multimedia look back on its own history, and has published a 100-page special edition of its “ROOTS” magazine, telling the story of the JHF’s founding and journey over the last quarter century.
Additional grants were awarded for fellowships ad internships, and to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development in support of efforts to improve the health of Western Pennsylvanians.
Trustees and longtime supporters of the JHF, including attorney David Ehrenwerth, also took the microphone to congratulate the JHF and Feinstein on their triumphs.
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.