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Personal Protective Equipment Keeps The Boulevard in Business

Northwestern Medicine Donates PPE During COVID-19

“When COVID-19 hit, it hit us hard and fast,” says Pamela Kerr, MSW, program director, The Boulevard – The Road to Health and Home. “We had almost no personal protective equipment to protect our residents or our staff until Northwestern Medicine helped out.”

Located on Chicago’s West Side, The Boulevard provides medical respite care, holistic support and housing services for adults recovering from illness or injury and experiencing homelessness. The Boulevard has 64 beds for those who are discharged from the hospital and have no place to go to recover. It also provides social services, case management, and behavioral health, housing and employment resources for success after recovery. Though The Boulevard is not considered a medical center, it does provide hands-on medication support for residents.

When the pandemic first began, 22 of The Boulevard’s 53 residents tested positive for COVID-19. Five had to be hospitalized. Eventually, eight staff members tested positive, and one was hospitalized.

“As scary as it was, we couldn’t imagine not being here to care for our residents, so everybody showed up every day, even though the risk was very high,” says Kerr.

As COVID-19 continued to spread, The Boulevard had to stop taking new residents because it didn’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect residents and staff. That’s when The Boulevard started getting pallets of boxes of PPE from its community partner.

“We had to find a separate room to store all the gowns, gloves, goggles and masks Northwestern Medicine donated to us,” says Kerr. “These weekly donations from Northwestern Medicine are a huge blessing. We had difficulty getting anything because we aren’t a medical facility.”

The Boulevard received roughly 500 N95 respirator masks, more than 1,000 isolation gowns and a variety of other PPE, including gloves and safety glasses, from Northwestern Medicine. Leaders from Northwestern Medicine also provided education on the proper use of PPE.

Because of the PPE donations, The Boulevard could welcome new residents again. Northwestern Medicine also donated packaged snack food to The Boulevard. Residents were unable to leave the facility to purchase their own snacks due to the facility’s quarantine policy, so the snack donations helped to supplement and give residents a healthy treat after meals.

“These donations enabled The Boulevard to continue to serve our residents,” says Kerr. “We were able to do what we needed to do despite the pandemic. We are grateful.”