Patient Connection

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Emergencies Can Separate Families

When local emergencies happen, searching for an injured loved one can be a slow and complicated process. The American Red Cross is ready to connect and comfort families during times of emergency and expedite this process through the Patient Connection program.

One Call Reaches More Than 200 Hospitals

The program reunites hospitalized disaster victims with family and friends during emergencies, offering one central hotline where families can obtain information. This eliminates the need to call or drive around to multiple hospitals to look for a loved one.

How Does It Work?

Patient Connection is activated when a local incident sends 10 or more people to hospitals. We open a call center so people can inquire about those who may have been hospitalized. Patient Connection call agents work confidentially with hospitals to collect and compile names and physical descriptions of patients. The call agents then compare this information to descriptions given by callers. If there is a match, callers are connected with their loved ones.

Triggers may include:

  • Transportation accidents including mass transit, aviation and traffic emergencies
  • Building fires and collapses
  • As a precaution before some large community and athletic events like the Chicago Marathon
  • Why Can the Red Cross Access Patient Information?

    The American Red Cross is HIPAA-exempt, which enables hospitals to share information with the Red Cross during times of disaster solely for the purpose of family reunification.

    This program is currently available throughout Illinois and Northwest Indiana. For more information please contact the Disaster Services department at (312) 729-6291 or send an email to

    Thank you to our Patient Connection program sponsor: