Tzu Chi’s COVID-19 Relief: Providing Aid for Inland Empire Hospitals Rain or Shine

National Headquarters  |  April 14, 2020
Volunteers deliver masks to Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center on April 9th. Photo by Huiching Su.

Written by Jennier Chien, Suong Chang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto 

Although it’s April, the weather still carries a bit of a chill here in sunny Southern California. Even through the cold and heavy rain with an outside temperature of 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius), Tzu Chi volunteers were committed to completing their delivery of medical supplies to Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center.

Unity Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

To express their thanks for the donation, Dr. Samir Johna, an Attending Surgeon and the Program Director for the General Surgery Residency Program at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center, Dr. Mark Bai, Assistant Area Medical Director of Fontana & Ontario Medical Center, and Dr. Philip Shie, personally welcomed Tzu Chi volunteers at the main entrance. 

Volunteers made deliveries of protective masks to two hospitals in San Bernardino County despite the rain. Photo by Huiching Su.
Dr. Samir Johna, Dr. Mark Bai, and Dr. Philip Shie accept the donation on behalf of Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center and thanked Tzu Chi for the delivery. Photo by Jennifer Chien.

Volunteers explained that they brought 2,000 surgical masks to the hospital this time, and apologized for insufficient supplies of N95 respirators, but expect to deliver them as soon as they’re available.

I believe what you (Tzu Chi) did today embodies that of a good role model for the community, showing the power of unity to fight the disease. No matter how much supplies are donated, every donation from the community is wonderful. It will help the medical workers to fight bravely, and we all hope the pandemic will end soon.

A Heartfelt Humbleness

“In the weather like this, you brought us these precious medical supplies,” expressed Dr. Philip Shie while signing for the supplies. “My sincere gratitude to you from the bottom of my heart. Especially with such a respectful and humble attitude — it makes us feel the goodness between people. Thank you!” When handing over the supplies, the three doctors bowed to the volunteers, who then responded in kind by placing their hands together in front of their chests to return the bow of gratitude.

Dr. Philip Shie thanks Tzu Chi volunteers with a bow. Photo by Huiching Su

Dr. Mark Bai hopes Tzu Chi’s relationship within the community can bring about more awareness of preventive measures. And indeed, to flatten the curve, it’s necessary to wash one’s hands frequently, maintain social distancing procedures, avoid touching your face, and wear a mask or face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

After receiving the medical supplies, the doctors brought the medical masks to the other buildings that are part of the hospital quickly to aid the other departments as well.

Tzu Chi’s Commitment

Known for its advanced technology, service-oriented medical care, and education, the second donation of supplies was provided for a Loma Linda University Medical Center located in San Bernardino County, CA. Kent Broersma, the warehouse manager of the University Medical Center, had submitted an application to Tzu Chi via the internet on April 7th. Tzu Chi volunteers reached out to him soon after the request and brought 8,000 surgical masks on April 9th.

A Tzu Chi volunteer, James Wu, poses for a photo with Kent Brusma and a staff member while unloading the medical supplies together. Photo by Huiching Su.
Danny loads the medical masks on the vehicle, ready to transport them across departments. Photo by Huiching Su.

Volunteers vowed to return with further donations of medical supplies. 

“We (the hospital) are at such a remote location, it’s not easy for you to come by, but instead you’re willing to come back again, I am really touched,” said Kent Broersma. “On behalf of the health care workers at the hospital, I would like to say thank you. Although they cannot come to thank you in person, I believe they must have the same thought.”

The warehouse staff immediately loaded the medical masks on their truck to be delivered to multiple Loma Linda locations. As the truck went its separate way in the rain, Tzu Chi volunteers waved their goodbyes, sending forth their blessings to the healthcare workers.

Delivering Supplies Despite the Rain

Suong Chang, a Tzu Chi volunteer, was the point of contact for the donations. “The two hospitals took the initiative to apply for assistance online and explained that their masks in stock are down to only one or two weeks, which raised our awareness to bring medical masks immediately,” she said. “The safety of the front line health care workers is very important. If they feel safe and have the proper PPE, they can help the patients in need of their care.”

After unloading the supplies, Tzu Chi volunteers and the Loma Linda University Hospital warehouse team posed for a photo once the rain had ended. Photo by Huiching Su.
Tzu Chi volunteer Suong Chang (left) introduces Tzu Chi’s areas of services to Loma Linda University Medical Center Warehouse Manager (right) and Director (middle), explaining how the support from Tzu Chi's donors around the world are helping to flatten the curve. Photo by Jennifer Chien.

On April 8th, Tzu Chi volunteers from the Inland Empire area in Southern California were given an urgent task to deliver medical supplies to two hospitals in need of medical masks. A volunteer named James Wu led a team of volunteers to Tzu Chi Medical Foundation (TCMF) to pick up the required medical supplies. They immediately contacted the hospitals and delivered the medical masks without further ado the following day. 


James Wu expressed that seeing their smiles and feeling their gratitude when the medical masks are delivered made him realize just how much these deliveries mean to frontline medical workers, and hopes to ensure they know how deeply Tzu Chi volunteers care for each and every one of these heroes. 

The cold and rain won’t stop Tzu Chi volunteers from carrying out their mission — volunteers have witnessed firsthand the deep reserves of compassion and determination of health care workers on the frontline as they serve their patients. 

Help us provide the essential personal protective equipment healthcare workers require to keep their communities and themselves safe; flatten the curve with Tzu Chi USA by donating today. 

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