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Wash & Wear Community Mask Project to Provide 100,000 Reusable Medline Facemasks in Chicago's Hardest Hit Communities

Medline partnership with YMCA, Knowality, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois to provide COVID-19 PPE in Black and Brown Communities

CHICAGO, June 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Medline, in collaboration with YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, Knowality, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL), announced today the creation of the "Wash and Wear Community Mask Project." This production and distribution initiative will supply 100,000 reusable Medline facemasks to people living in underserved Chicago neighborhoods that are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Medline is bringing 100,000 reusable facemasks to underserved neighborhoods throughout Chicago. The healthcare company, in partnership with YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, Knowality, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, is distributing facemasks to those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The facemask giveaway comes one week after Medline committed $1 million to various non-profits supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

All Illinoisans are required to wear a facemask in public when social distancing is not an option, yet Black and Brown communities in the city don't always have access to PPE. Through this new initiative, facemasks will be distributed at no charge to anyone who needs one in some of the city's most vulnerable communities. The distribution will be on June 25th at 16 YMCA and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois partner locations in such neighborhoods as Auburn Gresham, Chatam, Englewood, Roseland, Rosemoor, Austin, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, Pilsen and High Ridge.

With masks in high demand, recipients of the Medline Reusable Mask can use and use it over time. The facemasks are made from the same fabric as medical scrubs and have been tested to withstand up to 25 launderings. 

"Social determinants of health such as race and income impact health outcomes - this is true here in Chicago, where COVID-19 case rates have been higher in minority, low-income areas," said Karen Frey, Senior Philanthropy Manager, Medline. "Through this initiative, we continue our fight for health equity."

Prior to the pandemic, people living in Chicago's most vulnerable communities were already disproportionately impacted by social determinants of health. COVID-19 only exacerbates the problem, especially for those not adequately protected. Recent research from the Chicago Urban League finds that Black residents account for 30% of Chicago's population but 54% of the city's coronavirus deaths. The organizations involved share a sense of purpose to provide Black and Brown Chicagoans access to basic necessities in order to live safe and healthy lives, regardless of their circumstances. Today, it is simply a reusable mask. Now more than ever, the well-being of our communities is the top priority.

The partnership includes distribution through community organizations that partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and the YMCA's Chicagoland locations.

"This horrible virus is tricky, and families need to protect themselves. It is during challenging times like these when market-wide nonprofits such as the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago should leverage their depth, reach, and networks to partner with other community groups doing great work. We are proud to be a part of such a practical collaboration that may help lessen the anxiety for local families," said Richard Malone, President and CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has been working since the start of the pandemic to support its members and communities most impacted by the emerging health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, including providing 150,000 masks for providers and $1.5M in grants to community organizations focused on hunger, shelter and access to care.

"Wearing a facemask is a key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 based on CDC prevention recommendation and we're proud to be able to be part of this Project to bring hands-on help to some of the neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19," said Harmony Harington, VP Government, Communications and Community Relations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. "We believe these wash and rewear masks can help make a longer-term impact on not just the people receiving them, but everyone they come in contact with."

Knowality is a venture services firm dedicated to accelerating the adoption of health care services that improve population health. By increasing the speed of market adoption for proven health care services, Knowality is increasing the likelihood of Americans living a healthy lifestyle.

"While it is important to focus on the front line healthcare worker, it is equally important to prioritize efforts upstream in the community," said Dr. Trent Haywood, Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Knowality. "It is upstream where we will reduce exposure."

Visit the Medline Newsroom for the full list of facemask distribution locations and times.

About Medline
Medline is a healthcare company: a manufacturer, distributor and solutions provider focused on improving the overall operating performance of healthcare. Medline works with both the country's largest healthcare systems and independent facilities across the continuum of care to provide the clinical and supply chain resources required for long-term financial viability in delivering high quality care. With the size of one of the country's largest companies and the agility of a family-owned business, Medline is able to invest in its customers for the long-term and rapidly respond with customized solutions. Headquartered in Northfield, Ill., Medline has 26,000+ employees worldwide, a fleet of nearly 1,000 trucks and does business in more than 90 countries. Learn more about Medline at www.medline.com.

About YMCA
The YMCA of Metro Chicago is an association of 14 Y centers, five overnight camps, and dozens of extension sites located in the city and across the suburbs. We serve more than 200,000 members annually and help children, families, and communities learn, grow, and thrive through programs that promote academic readiness, character development, violence prevention, and fitness and healthy living. Our impact is felt every day when an individual makes a healthy choice, when a mentor inspires a child, and when a community comes together for the common good. Learn about how the Y is working for a better us at ymcachicago.org

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is committed to expanding access to quality, cost-effective health care to as many people as possible in Illinois. BCBSIL is dedicated to innovation and exploring, nurturing and activating future possibilities to make the health care system work better for our members and our communities. BCBSIL is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Knowality
Knowality, LLC., provides health care startups with network services, product strategy, contract support and advisory services to strategically target market opportunities with payers and providers. For more information, visit www.knowality.com

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SOURCE Medline