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Midwest Express Clinic asks public for donations of masks and personal protective equipment

Originally published on March 18, 2020 by Joseph S. Pete with the Times of Northwest Indiana

Midwest-Express-Clinic-Dyer-Location-ExteriorMidwest Express Clinic is asking the public for donations of face masks and other personal protective equipment as it seeks to protect its staff of front-line medical providers at its 17 locations across Northwest Indiana and greater Chicagoland.

The chain of urgent care clinics, which started in Munster, has seen a surge in patients, including overflow from area hospitals, and is accepting any insurance for the time being. But it’s had trouble procuring personal protective equipment for its doctors and nursing, even from stores and Amazon, and has no idea when more will be available.

“In this state of emergency with this whole pandemic, we need to let everyone know we need personal protective equipment,” Midwest Express Clinic Director of Marketing Muhammad Tayyab said. “We’re looking for donations of masks, gowns, hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and face shields. Basically, we need as much as possible.”

First Midwest Express Chief Operations Officer Sangeet Shah said there’s a nationwide shortage of proper personal protective equipment affecting medical providers across the country. The clinic has tried various medical distributors, stores and Amazon, where it isn’t available until mid-April.

“PPE is out of stock and on back order everywhere,” he said. “As medical professionals, we’re on the front lines and need equipment like face masks, hand sanitizer, face shields, gowns, disinfecting soap, disinfectant and disinfectant wipes in this emergency time of need. We’re seen an increased volume of patients, people seeking blood pressure medications or getting injured, while the hospitals are overburdened providing care. We are trying to do our part to help our community in this time of need.”

Midwest Express Clinic is now accepting all HMOs and insurances, including those out of network, charging customers a maximum of $50 out of pocket.

“We are doing everything to not turn away anyone at this time,” Shah said. “We are open for primary care if you are unable to get to your primary care office. We are treating injuries and doing preventative care. All we ask is if you have an upper respiratory issue that you call ahead so we can take precautions to protect our patients and staff. You can call to make an appointment at anytime. We will do a proper screening on the phone.”

Midwest Express Clinic, which has six locations in Northwest Indiana, hasn’t gotten any updates from any health department, manufacturers or distributors about when more masks and personal protective equipment will become available, so it’s soliciting donations from the public. People can drop donations off at any clinic, and can call ahead so they don’t have to get out of their car.

“The urgency factor is high,” Shah said. “We’re trying to be a resource for the community and need to protect our people.”