Dear Friends of Mt. Sinai:
It has been a challenging time for Cleveland as we endeavor to emerge from the deadly and lingering effects of COVID-19. As a health and medicine foundation, Mt. Sinai has both acted strategically and been called upon to provide leadership in Greater Cleveland’s efforts to contain the spread of the disease and address newly identified needs.
This interactive annual report illustrates just a few highlights of Mt. Sinai’s work responding to the coronavirus pandemic and mitigating its impact on Cleveland.
It was early spring, 2020. Airlines had grounded their fleets on desert runways. Major League baseball had just canceled its 2020 season. Hospitals and their staffs were treating hundreds of COVID-19 patients but often didn’t know how to help.
These were dark days.
Recognition of Cleveland’s Health Heroes
It was against this backdrop that Mt. Sinai’s 2020 Maurice Saltzman Award Selection Committee came together under the leadership of Chair Enid Rosenberg to determine a 2020 award recipient. Committee members immediately concluded that we should honor Cleveland’s health heroes – those health care workers who went to work every day, risking their lives and sadly, sometimes succumbing to COVID-19 themselves while caring for patients.
In partnership with WKYC 3 Studios, Mt. Sinai sponsored a series of activities to recognize our honorees. Selection Committee Chair Enid Rosenberg chatted about these efforts with News Anchor and Managing Editor Russ Mitchell. Take a look.
Pandemic Support for the Cleveland Jewish Community
Also in early spring 2020, the Mt. Sinai Health Foundation quickly supported the Jewish community with a $250,000 grant to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. This would later rise to $1 million for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for local Jewish day schools, implementation of new pandemic protocols at Menorah Park, and mental health care and human services through Bellefaire JCB and Jewish Family Service Association (JFSA).
Progress Through Partnership
How does a modest-sized health grantmaker confront the impact of a global pandemic? We partner like we always have with our sister grantmaking organizations. When Mt. Sinai, the Gund Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation and other philanthropies got together to launch the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, to which Mt. Sinai contributed $500,000, it drew national attention. Mt. Sinai Vice President Daniel Cohn and Cleveland Foundation colleague Dale Anglin were interviewed on Fox Business News early in the pandemic. Unfortunately, Dale’s home internet was unstable so Dan ended up doing most of the talking. Take a look.
VACCINE - Shots in Arms
General distribution of the vaccine came along in early 2021, and Mt. Sinai staff again figured very prominently in programs to fight vaccine hesitancy. When the Biden Administration announced a mass vaccination clinic to be held at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center, Governor Mike DeWine’s office called Mt. Sinai and asked if we would help.
Our program staff chaired weekly citywide Zoom calls to coordinate door-to-door canvassing, outreach to faith-based and other community organizations, and transportation to the Wolstein site for thousands of area residents. With Mt. Sinai’s help, Cleveland’s grantmaking community supported more than 60 nonprofit agencies in this effort, which together helped 11,000 Greater Cleveland residents get vaccinated.
Vaccine hesitancy turned out to be a major barrier to controlling the spread of the disease, especially in communities of color. So in November of last year, the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, now 70-funders strong, asked Mt. Sinai to chair a vaccine hesitancy task force, an effort that continues to this day. Central to this body of work has been the Guardians CLE Campaign, a communications initiative providing culturally relevant, neighborhood level information about the vaccine to those at highest risk for transmission and least likely to get the shot.
The campaign was centered on the premise of having trusted voices from our city’s neighborhoods -- not from government or health care providers -- deliver pro-vaccine messages to their neighbors. Take a look.
A Time of Challenge and an Opportunity to Serve
Thank goodness we are in a different place today than we were in 2020. As we continue to emerge from the darkest days of COVID-19, Mt. Sinai is determined to meet the challenges yet to come of the global pandemic and its effects on our community.
Mt. Sinai grantmaking and leadership continued throughout 2021 in spite of COVID-19. Even with bumps in the road, like inspectors being unable to enter rental properties, the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition delved deep into its implementation phase of making our city lead safe for our children today -- and for generations of Clevelanders yet unborn. Our policy partners continued working alongside government to ensure that programs of the health and human services safety net were available for those who found themselves newly in need, reminiscent of the time-honored role of our predecessor institution.
We invite you to read the sections of this report to learn more about our progress to improve the health of the Cleveland community. As always, we welcome your input and support.