Western Pennsylvania Health Care Partners Announce Scholarship Program for Long-Term Care Infection Prevention Specialists

By: Ashley Trentrock

Infection prevention in long-term care facilities has never been more vital than during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this unprecedented year, facilities across the world have been on the front lines battling the deadly virus.

To support their efforts to care for one of the most vulnerable populations, the Regional Congregate Care Assistance Teams (RCATs) have launched a scholarship program to help nurses, nurse practitioners, medication technicians and other clinicians in Western Pennsylvania long term care facilities to become certified infection preventionists.

“Infection prevention specialists are so important to the care of residents in long-term care facilities,” said April L. Kane, a social worker with UPMC Community Provider Services. “As part of this state collaborative, UPMC is thrilled to provide aid to further the education of long-term care clinicians and ultimately increase the number of certified professionals who can support infection prevention efforts in these facilities and improve the quality of care for residents.”

The Wolf Administration established the RCATs in January 2021 to continue some of the support previously offered by the Regional Response Health Collaborative program when its funding lapsed at the end of 2020. The Western Pennsylvania RCAT partners include UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, Excela Health, Penn Highlands Healthcare and the Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania.

The scholarship program will provide financial aid for health care workers to attend the Infection Preventionist Certificate Mastery Program (IPAC), which is a prerequisite course to be eligible to sit for the NADONA Infection Preventionist Board Certification. Completing the IPAC course and the official IPAC board certification exam enables successful participants to further their careers.

Those who advance to infection control positions will be leading long-term care facilities in their compliance with the most current infection control practices. This improves the safety and quality of care provided to residents.

For information on receiving a scholarship, please contact Jane Montgomery, chief operating officer, Healthcare Council of Western PA, at 724-772-7264 or email jane.montgomery@hcwp.org no later than April 30, 2021.