Community members from a dozen Chicago neighborhoods came by foot, bus and car to receive reusable facemasks. The Medline Wash-and-Wear Community Mask Project provided 100,000 of the coverings to help Black and Brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
The initiative, a collaboration with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and Knowality, was created to help provide greater access to basic personal protective equipment.
“COVID-19 has shed light on the inequalities that exist today throughout the country that make Black and Latinx populations that much more vulnerable to the disease,” explains Francesca Olivier, senior director of social responsibility at Medline.
Recent research from the Chicago Urban League finds that Black residents account for 30% of Chicago’s population but 54% of the city’s COVID-19 deaths.
“The organizations involved share a sense of purpose to provide at risk Chicagoans access to basic necessities in order to live safe and healthy lives, regardless of their circumstances. Now more than ever, the well-being of our communities is the top priority,” says Olivier.
The facemask distribution comes one week after Medline committed $1 million to various non-profits supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and is part of a larger initiative called Medline CARES (Community, Action, Resources, Education and Solutions), which addresses social determinants of health in the communities where the company’s employees live and work. Social determinants of health are the social, economic and environmental factors that impact a person’s ability to lead a healthy life, such as a person’s education level, race and even the zip code they live in.
“Community Impact is a pillar of our Corporate Social Responsibility program. Through our program, we work to address social determinants of health so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full health potential, regardless of their circumstance. We believe that by investing human and financial resources to address prevalent healthcare concerns and challenges, we can stimulate health equity and improve the well-being of a community,” says Olivier.
Learn more about how Medline is supporting communities across the country.