“We only have a week’s supply of surgical masks for our elderly home, is it possible to request for some from Tzu Chi?”
On 18th of May, Tzu Chi New Zealand received a call for help.
Volunteers Swiftly Responded to Call for Help from Elderly Homes
Due to a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the pandemic, the New Zealand government was very careful in allocating its supply of PPE to the entire nation. Care homes for the elderly were only allocated a limited supply of PPEs as they were not considered a priority on the list of emergencies. Because of that, Ms Cai from Rose Garden Rest Home in Whangarei had to come up with her own solutions to obtain more PPEs for the elderly residents.
Tzu Chi volunteers giving protective goggles and face shields to Ms Cai on top of the surgical masks which she had requested. (Photo by Zhang Li Zhen)
Ms Cai’s request for more surgical masks was promptly responded by Tzu Chi. On the 23rd of the month, Ms Cai made a three-hour drive to Tzu Chi New Zealand in Auckland to find that Tzu Chi volunteers were already waiting for her with the surgical masks she had requested. On top of that, Tzu Chi was also giving her protective googles and face shields which she did not ask for.
Ms Cai complimented that Tzu Chi is always thinking one step ahead for the people they are helping. She shared that before the pandemic, a senile elderly had moved into their elderly home right before the nationwide lockdown. As it was still summer at that time, his family had only prepared thin clothing with short sleeves for him. A sudden change in weather left them scrambling to look for suitable clothing for of the resident. Fortunately, two years ago, Tzu Chi New Zealand had donated a batch of winter clothing for the elderly home in case of emergencies.
She said, “Luckily Tzu Chi is there to keep the seniors warm and cosy. When their families visited and noticed the foreign clothing, they were very grateful after learning the story behind the clothing.”
Another elder care facility waiting for PPE aid was Ons Dorp Resthome Care Centre in West Auckland. The elder care facility managed to send their request over to Tzu Chi through a North Shore Hospital family doctor, Dr. Tai Wei Qi. On 28th of May, Tzu Chi paid a visit to the elder care facility to despatch the PPEs. Ons Dorp Resthome Care Centre was founded in 1983 by Dutch immigrants to New Zealand, today, they welcome elderly residents of different nationality.
Senior residents with chronic illnesses would need to visit hospitals on a regular basis and they are requested by doctors to wear a mask when they go to the hospital. However, there was a shortage of masks in the retirement village. To help these senior residents, Tzu Chi volunteers donated 300 pieces of surgical masks to enable them to do their regular hospital visits.
As Pandemic Eases, Care and Love Continues
As the number of cases dwindles in mid-May, movement control orders were eased. Geared with surgical masks, many elderlies with chronic diseases immediately made appointments with their family doctors for visits and prescriptions. Tzu Chi New Zealand focused on community hospitals, family doctors, dentists and other medical facilities, for their second phase of pandemic relief distribution.
Medical personnel were worried about the elderly as the latter belong to a high-risk group, therefore apart from disinfecting the hospital, doctors are wearing surgical masks and face shields too. They said, “We are not worried about getting infected, we are afraid we might transmit the virus to the elderly.”
It has been about two weeks since Tzu Chi volunteers last delivered some masks to The Doctors, New Lynn in West Auckland. Dr. Wu was thankful for the continuous care shown by Tzu Chi. He revealed that the situation in New Zealand has been getting better with zero COVID-19 cases recorded for 11 consecutive days. It is an uplifting sign to everyone, but he hoped everyone remains vigilant.
Although the New Zealand government had eased its lockdown to Alert Level 2 on 29th of May, it is important to note that there are still a lot of issues to be resolved by various sectors and there is still no cure for COVID-19. Nevertheless, the care and love from Tzu Chi volunteers will always be around/there.