Nebraska Health Care Foundation Funding to Improve Pandemic Response in Rural Areas

The Nebraska Health Care Foundation ( has been awarded $250,000 from the Donald E. Nielsen Foundation. These funds are designated for the University of Nebraska Medical Center Partners in Preparedness Mentor Project. This project will enhance COVID-19 pandemic preparedness in Nebraska’s rural nursing facilities and critical access centers through a multi-faceted approach.

The mentorship program provides an individual mentor to each long-term care facility and critical access hospital that opts into this voluntary service. Mentors connect with the facility designee on a daily basis as a single touchpoint to brainstorm strategies to follow national and state guidance; to assist in the interpretation of changing recommendations; or simply to provide some words of encouragement during these difficult times. Trust and consistency lead to great partnerships between mentor and mentee and ultimately helps facilities keep their residents or patients safe from COVID-19 transmission.

“Our model is based on a practice used by the infection prevention arena for over 30 years,” said Sharon Medcalf, Ph.D., director of the Center for Biosecurity, Biopreparedness, and Emerging Infectious Diseases in the UNMC College of Public Health. “Infection preventionists were assigned a mentor through their professional association and then that mentor became that “lifeline” for vetting ideas, strategies and seeking consensus. This project aims to provide the same type of relationship to long term care and critical access hospitals to help response coordinators navigate through their facilities COVID-19 response.”

The Nebraska Health Care Foundation was established by the Nebraska Health Care Association in 1987 to help ensure there are an adequate number of trained professionals to care for residents of the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities. To learn more, visit