Written by Daphne Liu
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
As worldwide concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic heightens, the medical community in New York has actively united to pave a path toward healing, and has shown their support for Tzu Chi’s fundraising campaign, “Providing Relief During the New Coronavirus Outbreak.” Healthfirst, the Coalition of Asian-American IPA (CAIPA), and the Chinese American Dental Association (CADA) donated nearly $90,000 to Tzu Chi New York to facilitate the purchase of vital medical supplies to be delivered directly to medical institutions in the affected areas.
Healthfirst, a well-known not-for-profit health insurer for New Yorkers, held a fundraising campaign within the company which encouraged colleagues to donate spontaneously. The company later matched the donation to a total of $21,948. Errol Pierre, the Senior Vice President of Healthfirst, said that he has been collaborating with Tzu Chi New York for quite some time, even visiting Tzu Chi in Taiwan once. He is therefore familiar with how Tzu Chi can effectively mobilize volunteers to help the people most in need.
The Chinese American Dental Association (CADA) also donated $17,500. The generous donation was made with the help of Dr. Kenneth Liao, the Deputy Chief Executive Director of Tzu Chi’s Northeast Region. Dr. Henry Chiu, Executive Committee Member of CADA, expressed that everyone on Earth shares the same destiny — what transpired in Wuhan, China, will affect everyone to some extent. And indeed, implementing effective preventative measures and inspiring unity in addressing the pandemic are paramount.
The Coalition of Asian-American IPA (CAIPA) is a group of Asian-American physicians in New York who have been fundraising since the beginning of the new coronavirus in January. Several doctors in the association are from Hubei and Wuhan, China, and many of the medical professionals on the frontlines in the affected areas were their classmates and colleagues. They are extremely cognizant of the plight of those in the areas most severely impacted by the virus, and therefore, launched fundraising campaigns within the association which accumulated $130,000 in relief funds — and the number of donations only continues to rise. George Liu, the President of the association, and Peggy Shen, the association’s CEO, donated $50,000 to Tzu Chi on behalf of CAIPA.
Freeman Su, Executive Director of Tzu Chi’s Northeast Region, thanked the three associations for their charitable contributions. Dr. Kenneth Liao, the Deputy Chief Executive Director of Tzu Chi’s Northeast Region, additionally presented a video to the guests detailing the process of how the medical supplies are collected globally and delivered to the affected areas. Tzu Chi USA delivered three bulk shipments of medical supplies in February, which included nearly 10,000 masks, 521 safety goggles, 600 N95 respirators, and 90 sets of medical protective overalls.
Before the event ended, Dr. Yushia Lin, an infectious disease physician at the Maimonides Medical Center, reminded everyone that the best preventive action is to one’s wash hands frequently for 20-30 seconds, and use soap every time you wash your hands — especially after using the restroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If you cannot wash with soap, use hand sanitizer, and remember to cough and sneeze into a tissue, not your hands. Also, it is highly recommended to start breaking some bad habits, such as the constant touching of the eyes, nose, and mouth.
While monitoring the growing pandemic, physicians and clinics in New York’s Chinese community have begun to pay close attention to the latest data released by the Center for Disease Control. Dr. George Liu, president of CAIPA said that at this time the New York City authorities have applied for 1,200 beds from Bellevue Hospital Center to prepare for COVID-19 patients. George Liu further suggested that before the testing reagents are made readily available, persons with symptoms similar to COVID-19 should not take the risk of going directly to a clinic — rather, contact your family doctor first for testing information and the correct screening procedures.
Tzu Chi’s New York Branch additionally implemented preventive procedures for containing the spread of the pandemic, which emphasizes regularly disinfecting surfaces. Individuals visiting the branch will also use hand sanitizer before signing in, and gatherings have been reduced. At 1:30 PM every day, prayer is held at the branch office, and as Tzu Chi volunteers continue to care for local communities, residents are called upon to be cautious, fundraise, and cooperate with the government officials’ preventive actions.