#MyMaskMyStory: “It was just having to switch that gear”

National Headquarters  |  August 24, 2020

Part of our Together While Apart campaign, #MyMaskMyStory is a collection of personal accounts from individuals with deep ties to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include those who have volunteered, those who have donated, and those who have received.

Edited by Dilber Shatursun

“My role as the [Northridge Hospital Foundation] Events Manager is to coordinate donations and fundraising events for the [Northridge Hospital Medical Center]. We’ve hosted events for 20+ years and there’s a calendar that we follow: we’ve got golf in the spring, we know what we’ve got to do; we have our signature gala, we’ve got to get ready for it; then our Holiday Jam, that’s in the winter. And with the world being put on hold… that was all up in the air. No one knew what was going to happen. Then as time progressed, we were seeing that things were not looking good, and now it was all hands on deck: we need PPE.”

“We were having to reuse the N95s. Nurses were keeping them in a safe place and using them as much they could and then when they had to, they would have them cleaned. Now we’re in a better situation but in the beginning- the disposable masks- we were really short on those and only available to select staff because of it. We were ordering them, but they weren’t arriving as quickly as they normally would. We knew if we had other people donate, we wouldn’t have to sit and wait for a manufacturer to send us what we needed.”

“We were now trying to reach out to organizations to obtain PPE and any donations that we could get to sustain our 2,000+ employees along with patients. You want to do what you can for the hospital and, ultimately, us as a Foundation, our role is to support the hospital with whatever needs it has. It was just having to switch that gear. And that’s what we did. That’s where it was hard; where do we get the PPE from when it’s not really available?”

“Thankfully, we had good relationships. [One of our colleagues] Dr. Green Hsueh had just recently retired and knew how important PPE was to sustain our hospital. She started contacting different people and connected us to Tzu Chi USA. If it wasn’t for her, we would have never known [about Tzu Chi]. Then, we would have one of our staff members to pick it up from one of [Tzu Chi’s] locations, or Dr. Green Hsueh or her husband would go [to make the pickup].”

“There were times when it became a bit of a challenge, [but] it was rewarding when we did get the [PPE] donated, and knowing that we were able to help the staff out was a really amazing feeling. We feel very fortunate to be a recipient of the several donations that Tzu Chi USA has provided over the last few months to our hospital. Now that we have [more] gowns, N95 masks, and surgical masks, we feel comfortable knowing that we can have the necessary supplies to continue doing what we need to do to care for our patients.”

“Thank you very much for the continued support to get through this pandemic, we are very grateful.”

Jen Zeltser, MPH, is the Program and Events Manager at the Northridge Hospital Foundation in Northridge, CA. She helped coordinate PPE donations from Tzu Chi volunteers for the Northridge Hospital Medical Center in July. To catch up on the entire #MyMaskMyStory collection, click here.

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