Written by Daphne Liu
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
Following the afternoon drizzle on Sunday, March 29th, 2020, volunteers from Tzu Chi’s New York branch were carefully preparing boxes of medical supplies — readying the inventory of essential medical masks donated through Tzu Chi in the past week to be delivered to two hospitals in New York City. Dr. Richard Yang, a medical professional with Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), and a Tzu Chi volunteer, Johnson Liu, had arrived in the afternoon after receiving a call that morning. They quickly packed 200 N95 respirators and 2,000 triple-layer surgical masks and drove to Flushing Hospital Medical Center and BronxCare Health System.
Protecting Medical Professionals
Tzu Chi volunteers delivered the medical masks to Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and the air of uncertainty that followed, residents have swarmed to test for the virus, the masks and personal protective equipment thus being used in large quantities. The hospital made an urgent request for medical supplies through the Coalition of Asian-American IPA (CAIPA) this week, and Tzu Chi quickly mobilized to donate 1,000 triple-layer medical masks, 100 N95 respirators, eight boxes of 200 pieces of PPE by CAIPA, 700 two-ply and 3-ply medical masks, and 5,000 basic medical masks.
Dr. Jing Liu thanked Tzu Chi New York and CAIPA with a smile of relief, expressing that the ER has been tending to a large number of COVID-19 suspected cases every day. Medical professionals are feeling the pressure keenly as medical masks and PPE have recently been quite scarce while the need for protective medical supplies are still in high demand.
FLATTEN THE CURVE
Tzu Chi volunteers continued their delivery of medical supplies next to BronxCare Health System. Upon arrival, they noticed an emergency tent was set up outside the hospital’s emergency room to screen patients. The Physician-in-Chief, Sridhar Chilimuri arrived to receive the donation of 1,000 triple-layer masks and 100 N95 respirators.
Dr. Chilimuri explained that there are 300 patients with the new coronavirus in the hospital, of which, 110 need to be on a ventilator. Medical workers are overwhelmed, some becoming infected, themselves, as they tirelessly attended to their patients and now must be isolated at home.
Sending Love From Around the World to New York
Presently, New York’s confirmed COVID-19 cases make up almost half of the nationwide total, nearly every hospital facing the shared dilemma of insufficient medical resources. Among these are masks, protective overalls, and eye protection. Since the beginning of March, Tzu Chi’s New York branch has received numerous calls for assistance.
The Executive Director of Tzu Chi’s Northeast Region, Freeman Su, and TIMA physician, Kenneth Liao, held discussions daily to determine how to help control the growing pandemic. Together with Tzu Chi USA volunteers and manufacturers from abroad, they managed to obtain medical masks, gloves, and protective overalls. Freeman Su and Dr. Kenneth Liao devoted their days to their contacts in the USA, and their nights to their contacts in Asia, only sleeping for two to three hours per day. They also applied themselves to finding the best means of integrating donated funds and finding ways to maximize resources. For example, the distribution of medical masks to date will include 10,000 from Shanghai, 15,000 from Guangzhou, 10,000 from Tzu Chi USA’s National Headquarters in California, and 20,000 N95 respirators from Tzu Chi USA’s Northeast Region.
Tzu Chi’s Northeast Region expects to divide the degree of urgency into three categories beginning in April. The hospitals with the least resources or with the most COVID-19 patients will be given priority for such medical supply deliveries. Over twenty hospitals in the Greater New York area will receive the donations of medical supplies in the hopes of supporting the courageous and compassionate healthcare heroes in emergency departments, enabling them to treat their patients safely and effectively.