PHILADELPHIA – The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) has selected Penn Medicine to participate in a $175 million statewide program aimed at improving COVID-19 response efforts in long-term residential care facilities.
Nine academic health systems across Pennsylvania were selected to receive funding for the program. The goal of the effort, known as the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program (RRHCP), is to work in partnership with local regulatory agencies and long-term care facilities in the development of COVID-19 readiness and response planning. Efforts will focus on infection prevention, universal testing, and education. As part of its role in the program, Penn will also partner with colleagues from Temple University Health System. Both Penn and Temple were selected in March by the Department of Human Services Educational Support and Clinical Coaching Programs (ESCCPs), a collaborative network established by the Department of Human Services that served as a precursor to the RRHC Program.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a disproportionate burden on the more than 2,000 personal care homes, assisted living residences, and skilled nursing facilities throughout the commonwealth,” said PJ Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “Protecting our state’s most at-risk residents is of vital importance, and academic health systems are poised to lead that effort.”
Residents and workers at long-term care facilities account for 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths and 10 percent of cases in the U.S. to date. To help Philadelphia facilities address the unique challenges they face, Penn Medicine proactively partnered with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health beginning in April. The health system has provided infection control consultation and personal protective equipment, expanded testing capacity, as well as virtual palliative care and bereavement services for staff, patients, and loved ones.
“As this work is beginning to have a profound impact on management of outbreaks and the spread of the virus, the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program will allow us to expand our reach further and serve those long-term care residents in our community who are the most vulnerable,” said Nina O’Connor, MD, chief of Palliative Care and chief medical officer of Penn Medicine at Home.
These efforts will be conducted in collaboration with long term care facilities and government agencies including the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.