Loyola student Max Jabaay had just finished a long shift at MacNeal Hospital and was on his way home with his mom. He looked out the car window and noticed a man wearing blue paper scrubs, sitting at a the hospital bus stop. He was a patient who had just been released.
But unlike other patients leaving the hospital, this one didn’t have his own clothes because they were removed during treatment. He was homeless. The hospital gave him what they could, but on a cold winter day the scrubs didn’t provide much warmth. This incident got Jabaay thinking.
So the senior biology major founded Critical Care Apparel (CCA) — a not-for-profit organization aiming to collect and provide clothes for homeless trauma patients.
Jabaay said it was unacceptable for patients to be released from hospitals in paper scrubs so he talked with the management at MacNeal Hospital to see if they could establish a partnership to start an organization that collects clothes for patients. After a few meetings, CCA had a designated area for donations at MacNeal Hospital.
“As a medical professional, I want to make sure that when a person leaves the ER, that they are leaving with the best possible ability to succeed, and giving them paper scrubs in the middle of winter in Chicago is not really adequate for them to succeed,” said Jabaay.
Co-founder, Klaudia Kukulka, a junior biology major, got involved in the CCA because of her astonishment to the reality of what happened to patients.
“I was shocked that during the winter the hospital actually released patients from the hospital in paper scrubs,” said Kukulka. “Rather than simply being appalled about the issue, I decided to try to help and solve the problem.”
Jabaay said one of the best things about being involved in CCA is that he gets to see both sides of the donation process.
“What’s cool is that I’m able to help get the clothes together, and then also give the clothes to patients,” said Jabaay. “Some patients are ecstatic when they receive the clothes; they are not expecting it. Sometimes I feel like Santa giving the clothes to the patients. It is truly amazing to see the gratitude.”
There are problems with wearing paper scrubs in the summer as well as the winter, according to Jabaay. In the summer, the paper from the scrubs does not hold up against water and humidity; they fall apart easily.
Jabaay said he hopes to expand CCA to the Loyola Medical Center and Weiss Memorial Hospital.
Jabaay is encouraging everyone to get involved.
“Taking donated clothes and folding them, washing them and giving them to people is not a hard thing,” he said. “It’s an easy way of giving dignity back to a patient.”
A clothing drive is expected to take place April 5 through April 12. There will be boxes marked with the CCA logo in Halas, Damen and various resident halls around campus. Students can get involved by donating gently used clothes. CCA is especially in need of male sweatpants and hoodies in XL and XXL sizes, as those tend to be the most versatile. However, all donations are accepted as long as they don’t promote drugs or violence.