Written by Jennifer Chien
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska
The United States currently has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, and the number continues to escalate daily. At the same time, frontline healthcare workers across the country lack personal protective equipment (PPE).
People from around the world have been expressing their love and support for these frontline heroes, with many individuals and groups actively donating PPE to hospitals. And yet, meeting the demand is challenging, as there are many different types of medical-grade face masks. Understandably, many are concerned about providing the proper PPE to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
On April 24, a team from Tzu Chi Medical Foundation made its way to the Methodist Hospital of Southern California, with a donation of PPE, including 10,000 surgical masks, 1,000 N95 respirators, 80 pairs of goggles, and ten sets of protective coveralls.
Present were Dr. William Keh, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer; Mary Keh, Volunteer Director; Dr. Stephen Denq, Executive Vice President and Medical Director; Albert Huang, Clinic Manager; and Tim Chang, Esq., a Board Member.
Waiting to welcome the Tzu Chi team at the main entrance were Mike Driebe, President of Methodist Hospital Foundation; and representing Methodist Hospital of Southern California, Cliff Daniels, its Senior Vice President / Chief Strategy Officer; Bala Chandrasekhar, Chief Medical Officer; and Steven Sisto, Senior Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer.
William Keh had met representatives from the Methodist Hospital of Southern California at the 2019 TIMA (Tzu Chi International Medical Association) Global Forum in San Dimas. Still, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation didn’t have a chance to collaborate with the hospital until now, and everyone present on April 24 was delighted at the prospect.
Mike Driebe and Cliff Daniels warmly greeted the team and shared about the hospital’s preventive actions during the pandemic. Mike then explained that although many hospitals are receiving PPE supplies donated by the public, unfortunately, some are non-medical grade.
At which point, Mary Keh shared a video from her phone, regarding the PPE obtained by Tzu Chi, which is all FDA-cleared. Seeing it, Mike and Cliff reacted with enthusiasm, “Great; we really need it!”
Mike Driebe also shared that the public is afraid of hospitals due to the possibility of being infected with COVID-19. However, sudden illnesses or accidents are still occurring.
To counter their concerns, Methodist Hospital of Southern California has taken specific preventive measures, for example, there’s now a station in front of the emergency entrance, where staff measure temperatures. He emphasized that people needing medical attention must not be deterred due to the pandemic, delaying medical treatment and risking their health.
Cliff Daniels acknowledged that all supplies of PPE donated by people are precious. Still, if they want to ensure that the equipment is suitable for use by hospitals, it’s best to consult with the designated institution first, to make sure that the supplies they aim to purchase are FDA-cleared.
Currently, most people buy PPE from overseas manufacturers and may encounter problems regarding compliance with U.S. regulations or customs declarations for imported goods. Tim Chang, who is a lawyer by profession, suggested that residents contact Tzu Chi Medical Foundation before placing an order.
Or, Tim proposed that people can also choose to donate to Tzu Chi instead. Then Tzu Chi USA will purchase the proper PPE and give it to hospitals in urgent need, assuring that their love and care will reach frontline healthcare workers without unforeseen delay.
Please join Tzu Chi USA in its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Doing so right now will double your impact, thanks to a generous donation match valid until June 30.