The successful approach for addressing community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic has become the pairing of local organizations with influence and the expertise and resources of Hartford HealthCare (HHC), according to system President and CEO Jeff Flaks.
The latest example, he said, is a commitment by the quasi-public organization Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) to fund a $400,000 grant to support HHC’s mobile COVID-19 testing efforts. The award was announced at one of the mobile program’s stops, the First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield.
“It has never been more clear – the importance of community partnerships,” Flaks said. “They make an enormous difference.”
Flaks said HHC’s mobile units offered testing at more than 150 locations across the state in July, in addition to tests conducted at the system’s eight permanent sites. The mobile units, he said, are essential to bring COVID-19 testing into vulnerable communities where people might not be able to get to a fixed site. The mobile units, for example, visit churches, schools, community centers, homeless shelters and nursing homes.
CHEFA grants will support staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, tests and other supplies for the mobile sites. First Cathedral was the first site at which the CHEFA funding was used.
State Sen. Doug McCrory, who has advocated for expanded testing programs, praised HHC for its comprehensive efforts.
“Thank you to Hartford HealthCare for taking the lead in testing in our community,” he said. “We need to work on this as a society.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic surged elsewhere in the country, HHC marked the 100,000-test mark in early July, a milestone officials attribute with helping keep the state’s infection rate under 1 percent.
“CHEFA is proud to support Hartford HealthCare with this significant grant from the fiscal year 2021 CHEFA COVID-19 Grant Program,” said Betty Sugerman Weintraub, CHEFA grant program manager. “The grant will have a meaningful impact on Connecticut residents during this challenging time. CHEFA is one of only a few statewide entities providing philanthropic resources to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. We value our partnership with the nonprofit community, as we seek to facilitate important efforts addressing the pandemic.”
CHEFA provides access to tax-exempt financing, grants and other financial assistance to educational institutions, healthcare organizations, childcare providers and other qualifying non-profits. The organization has issued more than $21.3 billion in bonds since 1965 and more than $38 million in grants since 2002.
As important as testing is, Keith Grant, APRN, HHC’s director of infection prevention, stressed the importance of such COVID-19 basics as social distancing, hand hygiene and mask wearing.
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