Chicago, Ill. (March 27, 2020) — Zakat Foundation of America stepped up its nationwide Coronavirus emergency response today, delivering thousands of direly needed medical-grade gloves to two far South Side Safety-Net hospitals in Chicago, a city the Surgeon General this morning tagged an emerging Covid-19 “hot spot.”
“We also see hot spots like Detroit, like Chicago, like New Orleans that will have a worse week next week than what they had this week,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.
In its first COVID-19 emergency distribution of now scarce personal protective equipment to undersupplied frontline health care workers around the country —especially those working in low-income neighborhood centers often fund-deprived by states and too small to catch the limelight — Zakat Foundation and its donors have gifted thousands of examination gloves to New Roseland Community Hospital and St. Bernard Hospital.
It plans to supply at least 100,000 gloves in coming days to healthcare providers at facilities like these throughout the nation, but also to protective-equipment deprived clinics in other areas. The medical staff of Franciscan Health Olympia Fields, Illinois, one of the wealthiest majority African American villages in the country, will receive gloves today, as well.
“As an American Muslim charity, we know firsthand the bad outcomes and neglect of being ‘othered,’ ” said Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation’s executive director. “The ‘others’ that Roseland and St. Bernard’s unsung staff provide critical care to, mostly impoverished African Americans, wait on the edge of a coming Coronavirus onslaught that doesn’t discriminate. We urgently want to help shield them.”
Zakat Foundation on the Coronavirus Frontline
While many charities have pledged ancillary help or shifted to tertiary crowdsourcing —and everything helps — Zakat Foundation is making a name among people directly in the fight.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office now keeps contact with Zakat Foundation and has welcomed its creative capacity and stalwart efforts, as do an ensemble of social service agencies, not only in Chicago, but in key metro areas across the nation.
“I want to thank [Zakat Foundation] for the generous offer to donate examination gloves to St. Bernard Hospital,” said Roland Abellera, the chief operations officer of the Safety-Net facility serving Chicago’s deeply impoverished Englewood neighborhood, a federally designated medically underserved area.
“Our biggest challenge as a Safety-Net hospital is just survival, keeping our doors open every day,” said Tim Eagan, the New Roseland Hospital president and CEO, with whom Demir and staff are working.
Safety-Net hospitals treat a majority of Medicare and Medicaid patients, the latter making up 87% of the people Roseland’s healthcare specialists treat.
“They’re on the front lines, our employees,” Eagan said of the staff receiving the much needed gloves today.
“[There] is an absolute divestment in our communities. … It’s led to a 37% increase in our [emergency department] volume, and we don’t get a reimbursement enough to cover our expenses now,” he said.
“Our black and brown communities deserve to have the investment of the money that’s coming in from the federal government to take care of our Medicaid patients.”
Zakat Foundation Offers Poor an Array of Coronavirus Aid
In the meantime, Demir and his staff have proven themselves cannily resourceful in acquiring hard-to-get medical supplies for healthcare workers at centers like Roseland, St. Bernard and Franciscan Health during this Coronavirus crisis.
Zakat Foundation, an international charity somehow still under the radar, even for many American Muslims, burst into its outsized national COVID-19 relief action early on (already distributing on March 20) with food basket, lunchbox and hygiene kit delivery to tens of thousands cut off from funds, food and mobility.
At the same time, Zakat Foundation’s growing professional mental wellness wing, Khalil Center, also began providing free, urgently needed psychological web therapy counseling and emergency hotline help nationwide during the surging contagion.
“We’re all in as a frontline charitable provider helping people survive COVID-19, on every level — financially, medically, nutritionally, mentally and spiritually,” Demir said.