Persevering Through the Pandemic

“The ability to continue my work gives me hope that we can get through this. It feels normal, even though it isn’t,” says Martell, a Customer Care Agent for The Chicago Lighthouse.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Chicago Lighthouse’s Customer Care Centers are playing a vital role in helping Chicagoans through the crisis. Though access to the building has been temporarily suspended, about 100 Care Center Agents, including 27 who have disabilities or are Veterans, have been working remotely, ensuring we can help people in need.

These agents, who are working for the University of Illinois Health System and Cook County Health Care, have shifted their efforts to addressing the coronavirus outbreak. Agents for UI Health are staffing around-the-clock hotlines to arrange care for people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and assist patients who are awaiting coronavirus test results. Meanwhile, Cook County agents are making outreach calls to patients whose social determinants put them at increased risk of contracting the disease.

By the end of June 2020, The Chicago Lighthouse anticipates answering over 40,000 calls from people who are concerned about their medical symptoms and connecting 20,000 Cook County residents at risk of contracting the virus to resources through outbound calls.

The Chicago Lighthouse’s Customer Care Centers do more than provide a reliable revenue stream for its other social programs and services. They have provided meaningful jobs and benefits for Veterans and people with disabilities. As our Customer Care Agents continue providing COVID-19-related assistance, they helping people throughout Chicagoland manage a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

Once the city’s and state’s “Stay at Home” orders are lifted, many of our remote agents will return to The Lighthouse. However, the knowledge, infrastructure, and capabilities we developed to keep our Centers up and running during the pandemic will continue to provide a service by providing employment opportunities to people whose disabilities make commuting to and from a workplace impossible. We now also have the ability to offer positions to people with disabilities and Veterans throughout Illinois.

In the aftermath of this pandemic, countless people with disabilities will be looking for jobs. Thanks to our newly developed remote-work capabilities, The Chicago Lighthouse is in a position to help more at-risk people than ever before.

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