Newswise — Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward is donating $100,000 to University of Chicago Medicine to help alleviate hardships experienced by frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and expand contact tracing efforts on Chicago’s South Side.

A five-time Gold Glove winner, Heyward joins the fight against the coronavirus pandemic through his family foundation, the Heyward Family Fund. Half of the donation supports UChicago Medicine’s Healthcare Heroes Fund, which helps offset hardship costs for frontline healthcare workers, such as childcare and eldercare, transportation, as well as temporary housing for workers. The remainder supports contact tracing efforts across the South Side, which has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Contact tracing is a public health practice that reduces the spread of disease by interviewing those who test positive for COVID-19 and tracking down people who could have been exposed to the virus because of contact with someone who is sick. UChicago Medicine is partnering with the South Side Healthcare Collaborative (SSHC), a network of more than 30 federally qualified health centers and community hospitals on the South Side, to implement contact tracing.

“Through this donation, I want to help ease the personal burdens on our healthcare heroes and support efforts aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially in vulnerable communities hit hard by the virus,” said Heyward.

Funding would help UChicago Medicine to set up a team of workers to implement contact tracing—a time-consuming and labor-intensive process—on Chicago’s South Side, which has some of the highest confirmed rates of COVID-19 in the city. This area includes five ZIP codes in the UChicago Medicine service area.

“Jason’s gift will help us provide needed care to people disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Brenda Battle, vice president of UChicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “This support is critical to our efforts to prevent further spread in the community.”