Newsroom

The Partnership for Better Health is a well-respected voice on timely health issues and actively involved in various initiatives and events throughout the community. Whether we are weighing in on a pressing policy issue, sharing recent developments in the field of health care or spreading the news about a promising public health strategy, we aim to keep the community informed and engaged.

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Majority of County Residents Support Tax Increase to Retain Claremont

April 6, 2021 – A new public opinion poll finds that 57 percent of Cumberland County residents are willing to pay $20 more a year in property taxes, if it means that the nursing home can remain a county-owned and operated facility.

Funded by the Partnership for Better Health and conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, the poll captures a representative sample of 400 Cumberland County residents who were contacted by phone and online last week.

Balanced to reflect the diversity of Cumberland County, the poll demonstrates little support for the sale of Claremont, regardless of age, gender, eastern or western region, or political affiliation. A third of poll respondents were Democrats, 50 percent were Republicans, and 13 percent were either independent or affiliated with another party.

Recognizing that 75 percent of Claremont’s patients are low-income, with their nursing care paid for by Medicaid, one survey question asked residents: On a scale of 1 to 10, how important do you think it is for Claremont to continue to serve primarily low-income patients? County residents gave an overall rating of 8.5, reflecting that maintaining nursing care services for low-income individuals is very important to them. In total, 74 percent of all respondents gave this question a high score of 8, 9 or 10.

In the Commissioners’ discussions, whether a new owner could be mandated to continue serving a majority of low-income patients has remained uncertain.

“Our board funded the poll to give residents a meaningful voice in what is quickly shaping up to be a three-person decision by the Commissioners,” said Becca Raley, Executive Director of the Partnership for Better Health. “Active public engagement has been nearly all but absent in the county’s deliberations about Claremont’s future, and for a facility that’s truly owned by the public, what local residents want and expect should be a top priority.”

Raley noted that the Partnership for Better Health’s board also offered to fund an independent, multi-year review of Claremont’s financial outlook and analyze various options, but the offer has been declined to date.

At their meeting on March 18, Commissioners Gary Eichelberger and Vince DeFilippo made a motion to begin negotiations to sell Claremont Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to Transitions Healthcare LLC, a for-profit company based in Maryland. Commissioner Jean Foschi opposes the sale and is calling for additional due diligence before a final decision is made.

The opinion poll finds that 72 percent of Cumberland County residents are aware of the County’s plans to sell, with only 14 percent of residents in support of selling Claremont to a private owner. A majority of respondents (45%) think that Claremont should be retained as county-owned and operated, with 41 percent of respondents still undecided.

Republicans oppose the sale by a margin of 45 to 20. Democrats oppose the sale by a margin of 50 to 9 margin, and independent voters oppose the sale by a margin of 36 to 4.

Last October, the County projected an annual loss for the nursing home of $2.6 million. Yet Cumberland County has generated budget surpluses for nearly a decade. Claremont’s advocates suggest that the home’s projected losses could be covered using a combination of the County’s existing reserves of $45.2 million and the $49 million in federal aid that is being apportioned to the County as part of the COVID-19 economic relief bill passed by Congress in December. To date, the two majority Commissioners have objected to using existing funds to support the nursing home’s operations.

The poll asked, hypothetically, if Cumberland County residents would be willing to pay $20 more per year in county taxes if it means that Claremont can remain a county-owned and operated facility: 57 percent of poll respondents said yes, with just 11 percent of residents undecided on the tax question. The $20 figure is an estimate of what an average homeowner may need to contribute to close Claremont’s projected deficit, which stems in part from the impact of COVID-19 on the nursing home.

Jim Lee, President of Susquehanna Polling & Research, noted that the majority of respondents who say they would be willing to pay more in county taxes to keep Claremont in county hands reflects a bipartisan majority of 54 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats. “To me, this is a strong testament to the fact that Claremont’s prospective sale is not viewed as a hyper-partisan issue by most. Many appear to believe keeping the county home is a valuable endeavor,” Lee stated.

Lee went on to state that the results appear somewhat compelling and selfless, “54 percent of those polled said they do not anticipate ever needing the services of the nursing home for themselves or their family, and among these, 45 percent would still pay more in taxes for the home to stay in county hands.”

Cumberland County’s Commissioners are expected to make a final vote on Claremont’s prospective sale this spring.

The poll results can be accessed Claremont Poll – Susquehanna Polling -4-5-21.

COVID-19 Rapid Response Emergency Grants

In response to COVID-19, the Partnership for Better Health is making a third round of Rapid Response Emergency Grants available to local nonprofit organizations. Grants are expected to range between $1,000 and $10,000. Funding priorities include these five pressing issues.

  1. Basic Health & Human Needs
  2. Emergency Responders
  3. Safe Child Care Services
  4. Homeless Residents
  5. Newly Unemployed & Rental Assistance

Organizations with significant experience serving vulnerable populations in the foundation’s geographic region of Central and Western Cumberland County, Perry County, Northern Adams County and Greater Shippensburg are invited to apply for grants of up to $10,000. 

Applications will be accepted through February 1, 2021, with awards announced in early March. The Partnership for Better Health accepts all applications online.  Visit here for more information and to apply.

Since April 2020, the Partnership for Better Health has made over $850,000 available through 78 emergency grants between the spring and fall of 2020. For a complete report of our spring 2020 emergency grants, click here. For a report of our fall 2020 emergency grants, click here. For our traditional grants, the next deadline is March 1, 2021. 

NEW- COVID-19 Testing Locations Guide

With COVID-19 cases continuing to spread in our communities, knowing where to go if you or someone you care for needs a test is vital. In South Central Pennsylvania, there are many options for testing and tests are often provided for free because of the CARES Act. The Partnership for Better Health’s new Central Pennsylvania COVID-19 Testing Locations includes weblinks, practical advice and phone numbers for 14 different COVID-19 test providers serving our region. To find a location that works for you, access the complete guide by clicking here.

Partnership for Better Health Distributes $630,425 in Emergency Grants to Address COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Partnership for Better Health distributed over $630,000 in emergency grants to local nonprofit organizations since April 1st.

“Our goal was to ensure that local nonprofits were well prepared to respond to the threat of COVID-19  and maintain essential services,” said Carol Thornton, Director of Grants & Public Policy at the Partnership. Thornton emphasized that the foundation’s yearend emergency grants were coupled with more than $1.7 million in traditional grants that the foundation already distributed this year. “We’ve made large grants to support community health services and recreational resources in the recent past, which have also been heavily tapped by community members during the current crisis.”

The new emergency grants for up to $25,000 prioritized four key issues:

  1. Ten emergency response service grants are assisting EMS, fire and rescue organizations with the purchase of essential health supplies, equipment and related supports to ensure they remain highly effective during the pandemic;
  2. Essential health service grants to 12 organizations are ensuring that primary care, mental health, substance use disorder and social-emotional services continue to operate in clean, protected or virtual settings;
  3. Grants to 23 nonprofits are meeting basic human needs, including food, shelter and rental assistance for individuals who have lost income and employment as a result of COVID-19; and
  4. Grants to seven nonprofits are supporting safe child and youth care programs during the summer months, towards helping them meet higher CDC safety guidelines during the pandemic, as many parents and guardians retain or return to work.

With a grant approval rate of 82 percent, the foundation awarded a total of 53 emergency grants.

Trish Niemitz, a retired school nurse who serves on the Partnership’s board and Community Investment Committee, helped to oversee the foundation’s grantmaking. Niemitz said that this year’s volume of grants was unprecedented. “Each funding request seemed more urgent and important than the last.” Niemitz explained that the grants went to a wide range of nonprofits, including: Community CARES; Project SHARE; Sadler Health Center and Samaritan Fellowship; plus area senior centers, and EMS, fire and rescue units serving communities in Cumberland, Perry, Franklin and Northern Adams counties. 

The foundation views the coronavirus pandemic as the greatest threat to human health that the community may see for decades. “If ever there were a time for local philanthropy to step up, it’s now,” said Gail Witwer, Director of Health Promotion at the Partnership. “We’re here in service to the community and we anticipate making a possible second round of emergency grants in the fall.”

As a community health foundation, the Partnership was formed in 2001 from the sale of the former Carlisle Hospital. Today, the foundation oversees a corpus of an estimated $43 million in unrestricted investments, plus it receives proceeds from restricted trusts that were originally bequeathed to the old Carlisle Hospital.

Chris Farrands, the Partnership’s board treasurer and a local CPA, described the foundation as a driving source of philanthropic giving in the community. Farrands pointed out, “Over the past 20 years, the foundation has distributed more than $40 million in grants to the region, while maintaining its corpus of investments to ensure future giving.” He attributed this success to careful financial stewardship and strong stock market performance over time.

Farrands also acknowledged, “The Partnership is anticipating some financially lean years ahead. But like several leading national foundations, we secured a low-interest line of credit that guarantees our ability to keep pace with community grants during the pandemic, without eroding the corpus of investments.” The Partnership for Better Health is charged with existing in perpetuity to support the long-term health of the community.

For a complete summary of distributed Emergency Grants click here.

Leadership Cumberland Scholarship Available

The Partnership for Better Health is pleased to offer a scholarship for the 2019-20 Leadership Cumberland program. The award will go to a health-related professional working at or volunteering for a nonprofit organization that serves the foundation’s region.   To apply, click Leadership Cumberland Scholarship App 2020-2021. Applications are due by June 28. To learn more, contact Gail Witwer at: 960-9009 x 8 or gwitwer@ForBetterHealthPA.org

Partnership for Better Health and 31 Area Nonprofits Celebrate the Success of Match Madness!

Annual Campaign Total Tops $529,000

During one of the most difficult months in our nation’s history, the Partnership for Better Health’s 2020 Match Madness campaign exceeded expectations by attracting more individual donations than in any previous year.

Match Madness is a collaborative campaign that supports 31 area nonprofits in raising core operating and program funds that remain flexible to meet evolving needs. This year’s campaign theme was Caring through Generosity.

As of March 31, the campaign drew in $529,414, reflecting a 46 percent increase in total funds raised by local groups, with 1118 contributions.

“It was a month of incredible generosity,” said Becca Raley, Executive Director at Partnership for Better Health. “The campaign is driven by local community members who understand the vital work of our lean nonprofit sector. The novel coronavirus seemed to have a multiplying effect, with residents looking for ways to help compelling service organizations meet rapidly escalating needs.”

Now in its fifth year, the Match Madness Campaign focuses on small nonprofits with annual budgets of under $5 million. This year’s top five fundraisers were New Life Community, The Salvation Army, Maranatha, Project SHARE and Community CARES.

The Partnership’s matching stretch pool grew to $80,000, with the generous support of M&T Bank and The Josiah W. and Bessie H. Kline Foundation. For each organization, the first $1000 raised is matched dollar-for-dollar, meaning that even small gifts receive a large financial boost. The remaining matching funds are shared proportionately across the groups, with 100 percent of funds raised, plus the match, going back into the community.

 “We are especially appreciative of the generosity from our funding partners at M&T Bank and the Josiah W. and Bessie H. Kline Foundation,” said Ann Myers, Gift Planning Officer at Partnership for Better Health. “March 2020 was a month unlike most of us have ever experienced. Our community stepped up to support our local nonprofits during a difficult time. It was evident that caring through generosity became the way of life for so many, as we navigated unchartered waters.” Due to COVID-19, the Partnership for Better Health is celebrating the community’s success virtually, through a special video release: https://youtu.be/TOH8BOpw35E

Congratulations to the 31 Match Madness partners!

Amethyst Foundation

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region

Big Brothers Big Sisters of York and Adams Counties

Carlisle Arts Learning Center

Carlisle Area Healthcare Auxiliary

Camp Koala

Civic Club of Shippensburg

Community CARES

Cumberland Goodwill EMS

Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council

Cumberland Youth Cycling Development

Drew Michael Taylor Foundation

Employment Skills Center

Fresh Match (Farmers on the Square)

Friends of Spring Township

Hope Station

Katie’s Place of Shippensburg

LEAF Project

Maranatha-Carlisle

New Life Community Church

Perry County Council of the Arts

Perry County Literacy Council

Perry Housing Partnership

Perry Human Services

Project SHARE

Safe Harbour

Shippensburg Community Resource Coalition

Summer Program for Youth (SPY)

The Mental Wellness Awareness Association

The RASE Project

The Salvation Army

Emergency Grants Available to Aid in COVID-19 Response

In March of 2020, the World Health Organization announced a global pandemic and the first cases of novel coronavirus in Pennsylvania quickly began to multiply. Recognizing the unprecedented health emergency facing our communities, the Partnership for Better Health is making Rapid Response Emergency Grants available to local nonprofit organizations, to assist them in responding to the threat of COVID-19. These grants are expected to range between $2,000 and $25,000 and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through May 29, 2020. Funding priorities for Emergency Grants include: meeting basic health and human needs, protecting emergency responders, supporting homeless residents, and financially assisting the newly unemployed. To learn more about this funding opportunity and to apply, follow this link to review our complete Request for Proposals

Systems Change Summit 2019

Held on August 7, this Summit was an opportunity for community partners to advance their understanding of how systemic decisions, conditions and policies impact our health and overall quality of life. Participants learned about the power of coalitions and ways that collective work can strengthen communities and bring about positive changes for vulnerable populations.

The public forum featured the progress of three local coalitions that are working in the areas of housing, community organizing and local food system improvements. Participants received an overview of systems change theory and collective impact, plus learned the strategies being used by these three coalitions to initiate desired changes.

The Summit was facilitated by Jason Alexander, Principal and Co-Founder of Capacity for Change, LLC.

Training materials are available below.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS — Policy Advocacy

Project Focus

The purpose of this RFP is to engage a government/public relations firm/professional consultant to assist the Partnership for Better Health and our Community Policy and Engagement Committee in developing a systematic approach to build the policy advocacy capacity of partner organizations in our geographic region:

  • Develop a systematic process for identifying and promoting reliable sources for calls to action that align with the Partnership’s mission and priorities.
  • Develop strategies that align with our capacity to advance efforts for at least each priority focus area, linking to Social Determinants of Health and/or Health Equity.
  • Develop suggested ways to include funding for advocacy activities of local and potentially state nonprofit partners into our grantmaking offerings

Our anticipated outcomes are as follows:

  • The Partnership has a clear approach and messaging strategy for ongoing advocacy work through grantmaking and direct advocacy;
  • Improved relationships with elected officials and/or administrative leaders; and
  • Increased advocacy capacity among grantees (measure to be determined based upon grantmaking strategy to be determined).

We seek a consultant that brings deep expertise in guiding the advocacy work of nonprofit organizations and familiarity with 501(c)(3) limitations in lobbying.  Consultants with significant experience working on health-related advocacy efforts in Pennsylvania, and specifically with communications to state and local elected officials, are encouraged to apply. Proposals are due on September 16, 2019, to the Partnership for Better Health. A scope of work, proposal requirements, project timeline and application instructions are shared below:

— REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS — Men’s Recovery House in Carlisle Supporting Recovery from Addiction in South Central PA

Due: August 16, 2019   |   Up to $100,000 Grant

An estimated twelve Pennsylvanians die each day as the result of drug-related deaths. Men comprise 70 percent of these deaths in our state, with younger men between the ages of 25 and 34 experiencing the highest number of fatalities. Since our founding in 2001, the Partnership for Better Health has been committed to addressing addiction throughout our service region. Together, with many others we are developing strategies to curb the epidemic by increasing access to prevention and treatment services. We are pleased to announce a new funding opportunity of up to $100,000 to support the development of a Men’s Recovery House in Carlisle that supports individuals in their journey towards a healthy, sober life. Organizations with significant experience providing treatment and recovery services in Pennsylvania are encouraged to apply. To receive a copy of our detailed Request for Proposals, click below. Applications are due August 16, 2019.