Columbia-based foundation to focus on support for front line health care workers, vulnerable residents

Moving aggressively to fulfill its mission to improve the health of Howard County residents, the Horizon Foundation announced today it will dedicate an additional $1 million to meet emergency health needs caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The new funding has been earmarked for a range of efforts including: supporting Howard County’s health care institutions and front line health care workers; enabling safe distancing for people in the county’s only general homeless shelter and in residential programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities; and supporting local mental health needs.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented action. The Horizon Foundation is committed to helping our community address rising needs, particularly for our heroes fighting the pandemic on the front lines and our most vulnerable community members,” said Greg Olaniran, board chair of the Horizon Foundation. “We will continue monitoring needs as the pandemic unfolds and work in collaboration with our partners to provide support. Together, we will get through this.”

Founded in 1998, the Horizon Foundation is the largest independent health philanthropy in Maryland and works to improve health and wellness in Howard County. Its work is driven by community needs and shaped around strategic solutions that promise a significant lasting impact on physical and mental health in the community.

“This is a stressful time for many in our community, including our health care workers and nonprofits, and all of us are deeply concerned for the health and wellbeing of our loved ones and our community,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation. “We feel these concerns deeply, and it makes our mission to improve the health and wellness of our community that much more important. We are grateful to our many organizational partners who are working so hard, and we are honored to be able to support them.”

Howard County has recorded more than 370 cases of COVID-19, and six people in the county have died. The number of cases is projected to continue to rise in the weeks ahead, straining health services across the county.

“Our community has always rallied around the health and welfare of our residents,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “We’re incredibly thankful to the Horizon Foundation for their generosity, partnership and shared commitment to ensuring our most vulnerable neighbors do not fall through the cracks and our essential healthcare workers have the resources they need.”

The $1 million in grants will go toward the following:

  • Howard County General Hospital: $500,000 – To keep front line health care workers safe, housed and fed as they fight the pandemic working over multiple shifts and to provide technology to support patients’ communication with loved ones who cannot visit during the state of emergency.
  • Health Facilities Association of Maryland: $125,000 – To provide personal protective equipment, food and temporary housing for front line health care workers at 25 assisted living, skilled nursing and other alternative living facilities in Howard County, and to provide technology so that patients can better engage with loved ones who cannot visit during the state of emergency.
  • Mental Health: $100,000 – To various organizations to support mental health needs during the pandemic.
  • Humanim: $75,000 – To support safe distancing for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in residential programs, to provide personal protective equipment for staff and to provide food for front line health care workers through the City Seeds program, which also provides jobs for individuals with barriers to employment.
  • Chase Brexton Health Care: $50,000 – To provide technology to support telecommuting and telehealth opportunities and to provide COVID-19 protective equipment and cleaning supplies at the county’s only federally qualified health care center, which provides affordable services to patients, including those who are uninsured.
  • Gilchrist Hospice: $50,000 – To provide COVID-19 protective equipment and cleaning supplies and to provide technology so that patients can better engage with loved ones who cannot visit during the state of emergency.
  • Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center: $50,000 – To provide temporary housing to homeless individuals and families to enable safe physical distancing and better protection from COVID-19 spread and to provide protective equipment and cleaning supplies for staff.
  • The Arc of Howard County: $50,000 – To support safe distancing for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in residential programs and to provide personal protective equipment for staff.

“Howard County General Hospital deeply appreciates the Horizon Foundation’s generous investment in our work at this challenging time,” said Steve Snelgrove, president of Howard County General Hospital. “Our team is working tirelessly to care for patients and this new gift will allow us to better support our staff on the front lines, especially as we prepare for a surge of patients in coming weeks. They are our heroes and we want to make sure they have the support they need to continue to care for patients.”

The Horizon Foundation’s new grants build upon previous funding commitments to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Last month, Horizon collaborated with the Community Foundation of Howard County, United Way of Central Maryland and Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County to pool resources and create HoCoRespond.com – a joint platform to raise funds and make grants to nonprofits. That effort has already generated more than $100,000 to support local emergency relief efforts, focusing on assisting with food security, housing, childcare and health. Horizon contributed $40,000 to jump-start the emergency funds and also contributed $20,000 to the Community Action Council of Howard County to provide food for Head Start families and the Food Bank.

“We know the needs are great, and we are proud to be part of a community of funders that are stepping up to show support in these trying times,” Highsmith Vernick said. “As Howard County’s community health foundation, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to supporting health and wellness for people in Howard County over the long term.

We are in this together – and we will get through this together.”

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Scott E

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