Erie legislators laud Regional Response Health Collaboration Program grant

HARRISBURG, July 14 -- State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, today announced LECOM Health and UPMC Community Provider Services will receive $13.6 million to support COVID-19 readiness and response planning in long-term care facilities.

The grants, awarded through the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program approved by the General Assembly, will help improve quality care related to infection prevention and allow long-term care facilities to expand COVID-19 testing to include asymptomatic staff and residents in facilities.

“I am thrilled to see this investment in the fight against COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” Bizzarro said. “Long-term care facility workers and residents need resources to help keep safe and mitigate the spread of this virus. When our health systems work together and the most innovative minds join forces, we can make meaningful progress in preserving the well-being of our community,” he explained.

“It’s critically important to get this collaborative effort underway,” Merski said. “The pandemic’s effect on our long-term care facilities has been devastating, and we can’t attack the problem in a vacuum. By combining forces and pooling the best possible resources, professionals and information, we can help these facilities implement the kind of long-term planning and strategies they need to mitigate the virus’ spread.”

Harkins added, “Designation of applicants and funding for the new collaborative program is great news because it moves us one step closer to providing our state’s long-term care facilities with the testing, techniques and best-practices information they so desperately need. The pandemic has left many of these facilities overwhelmed, and the collaborative will provide support and resources to help them prepare, plan and hopefully restore a safe and healthy environment for residents.”

The RRHCP will help implement best practices in infection control, contact tracing programs in facilities and support clinical care through on-site and telemedical services. The program-- based on the Educational Support and Clinical Coaching Program (ESCCP), a learning network that provided technical assistance and educational support to long-term care facilities in light of the current pandemic – will operate under grant agreements through Dec. 1.