It goes without saying but is definitely worth repeating: We are so grateful for all the healthcare workers who are saving lives and fighting this pandemic around the clock to keep us safe.
While you are hunkered down at home, there are still ways you can help those supporting patient care on every level, from doctors and nurses to technicians and pharmacists to EMTs and transporters.
Aside from social distancing, here’s what you can do:
With blood drives cancelled, the need for a stable supply of blood, platelets, and AB Elite plasma is still a reality for hospitals and blood banks around the country. Volunteer donors are the only source for those in need.
Healthy individuals can donate in areas that have issued Shelter in Place declarations by scheduling appointments with The Red Cross, which is following strict protocol for safety and infection control. Schedule an appointment with your local donation center here.
Help with Childcare
Many health workers are struggling to find care for their young children as schools and childcare programs remain closed. If you know someone in this situation, offer to watch their child while they are at work. You can also volunteer as a sitter with Sittercity, which is connecting first responders with free sitters in partnership with the city of Chicago.
Order Takeout or Delivery
If you know someone working on the frontlines, consider buying them delivery or takeout from a local restaurant that could also use your support. If you don’t know anyone but would still like to help, several restaurants in Chicago will send meals directly to healthcare workers. Happy Camper and Homeslice have an $11 “Buy a Meal for a Healthcare Worker/Volunteer” option on their menu, and sister restaurants Mott St. and Mini Mott are offering to deliver meals to medical professionals for $15 with a note of appreciation.
Shop for Their Groceries
Healthcare workers who are pulling extra hours may need help running essential errands. Offer to head to the store and check items off their list. Drop off groceries, essentials, and supplies at their home, and be sure to practice safe social distancing guidelines.
Healthcare workers across Chicagoland are in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns.
The following area hospitals are taking donations:
- Advocate Health Care is accepting a variety of PPE donations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if your supply qualifies.
- Edward-Elmhurst Heath is in need of N95 masks, surgical masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, nitrile gloves, isolation gowns, goggles, and thermometers. Donations can be made at the loading docks of Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital.
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital is calling for factory-made, hospital-quality supplies such as N95 masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, and hand sanitizer. You must fill out this form first in order to donate.
- Rush University Medical Center is accepting various PPE contributions. Email their Associate Vice President for Supply Chain Operations, Quincy Stanley, for more information on how to coordinate your donation.
- University of Chicago Medical Center is looking for disinfectant wipes, surgical masks, N95 masks, and sterile cotton-tipped swabs. Please submit an intake form prior to donation.
The state of Illinois also needs N95, earloop and surgical masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, goggles, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes in original, unopened packaging. Email email@example.com if you are able to donate any of these items, and they will determine the best drop-off spot based on your address.
Tap into your creative side and help out the medical community by sewing masks. Although not all hospitals can accept fabric masks, several home care and retirement communities can use your help. Initiated by the Sewing & Craft Alliance, WeNeedMasks.org offers simple instructions on how to properly sew both surgical-style and Olson masks, and provides a list of facilities that are in need by state.
Messages of support or appreciation can make the most trying days a little bit better, and can come in the form of a social media shoutout, text, or handwritten note. If you have children, recruit their help creating hand-drawn cards and expressing their own words of gratitude for those serving our most vulnerable. Many facilities cannot accept mail because of immunocompromised patients, so be sure to call ahead before you send anything. You can also take a picture of your card or note and send via email for the facility to print.
Thank you again to all of those who are fighting the spread of COVID-19.