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Advocate Aurora Health distributes more than 1 million masks to individuals and community organizations

Advocate Aurora Health today announced it has distributed 1 million procedural masks to 60 community organizations across Illinois and Wisconsin and another 140,000 cloth masks to individuals to reinforce the safety of communities that have been disproportionately impacted as the fight against COVID-19 wages on.

As communities begin to reopen, the health system is committed to providing organizations and community members with resources to help control the transmission of COVID-19. Clinician experts continue to encourage proven public health strategies including continuous cleaning of hands and surfaces; social distancing; and, importantly, masking to prevent infected individuals from spreading disease.

Advocate Aurora Health donated 1 million single-use procedural masks, also known as source control masks, to nonprofit partners serving the critical health care and social service needs of our community members most affected during this difficult time.

“At this time of tremendous need, we recognize that supplies can be challenging to find and costly to individuals and social service organizations already experiencing financial challenges as a result of the pandemic,” said Cristy Garcia-Thomas, Advocate Aurora Health Chief External Affairs Officer. “We’re pleased to share this mask supply with our valued partners and community members to better protect people at greatest risk.”

The procedural masks were distributed across the communities Advocate Aurora Health serves. Given the widespread financial and social need created by the pandemic, the health system chose to distribute the masks to partners who work not just in health care, but also in fields including domestic violence, housing and food insecurity and emergency response.

More details:

  • 352,500 masks were sent to 35 community organizations in Wisconsin, including Feeding America, Sojourner Family Peace Center and Milwaukee County Emergency Operations Center.
  • 648,500 masks were sent to 25 community organizations in Illinois, including Northern Illinois Food Bank, Greater Chicago Food Depository and Heartland Health Centers.

“We are grateful for the donation of 40,000 masks to our staff working at the Family Peace Center and out in the field,” said Carmen Pitre, President and CEO of Milwaukee’s Sojourner Family Peace Center, the largest provider of domestic violence prevention and intervention services in Wisconsin. “We are taking measures to safeguard clients, staff and visitors. Thanks to these masks, we’re covered—literally!”

These masks are intended to help reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus by people who may have been exposed; they are not personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended for medical use. Additionally, these masks are meant to be used one time and then discarded, and are for use by staff and volunteers, not to be distributed to the general public.

In addition to distributing 1 million procedural masks for professional use, Advocate Aurora Health also donated another 140,000 cloth masks to these organizations for distribution directly to individuals who visit COVID-19 testing sites, food donation sites, in-person health appointments and other community venues.

“Helping our community members access the tools they need to stay healthy is critical to stopping the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Julie Schuller, president and CEO of Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers in Milwaukee, a cloth mask recipient. “We thank Advocate Aurora Health for their generosity and the significant impact this donation will have among our families.”

Partners who are distributing the cloth mask point out that they will go to individuals who have been hardest hit by the pandemic and who are disproportionately people of color.

“We are grateful to Advocate Aurora for donating reusable cloth masks, which has allowed us to distribute them through three community partners: food distribution volunteers at DuPage AME Church, Peoples Resource Center and DuPage Health Coalition,” added David Roth, executive director of the DuPage Federation on Human Services Reform in Lombard, an Illinois recipient. “What a blessing to put reusable cloth masks into the possession of those in our community least able to take on the new expense of protecting their family and neighbors. The masks are going to those who are out of work and visiting food pantries, and those who are essential workers – disproportionately Latinx neighbors – in low-wage jobs with no health insurance.”

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