The new coronavirus has impacted the whole world. A state of emergency was declared in Ontario on 17 March 2020, requiring all non-essential activities, shops and schools to be closed. In response to the escalating pandemic situation, North York General Hospital in Toronto has increased its full-time outpatient clinics to treat COVID-19 cases in two hospital zones. In its rare appeal to the community, the hospital urged the public to donate protective gear and money to purchase medical equipment. Upon hearing the news, Tzu Chi took the lead in responding to the call.
Supporting medical front lines during coronavirus
Tzu Chi Toronto Branch and North York General Hospital are both located in the North York community. Since late March, volunteers have been cooperating with North York General Hospital to carry out two charity projects to support the medical front liners amid a pandemic and to raise fund to buy oxygen concentrators.
The increasing number of confirmed cases has caused panic in the community, leading to the crowding of hospitals by large number of patients waiting to be tested every day. Full-time medical staff are on duty for twelve hours, draining many of their physical strength. Coupled with the isolation measures in the hospital, these medical front liners are unable to buy food even during their break time.
In view of the situation, Tzu Chi took practical actions to show their care and support to the medical front liners by cooperating with vendors of the hospital to provide snacks to them every afternoon. Food suppliers who learned of Tzu Chi’s caring spirit have also took part in this meaningful effort by topping up another 25% in the orders placed by Tzu Chi for free.
This caring gesture was recognized by the medical staff. "When we take care of the patients wholeheartedly, we know that Tzu Chi is caring for us,” said the head of ICU, Marissa and manager, Angela, expressing their sincere gratitude via video.
Tzu Chi donates oxygen concentrators to support front line rescue effort
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 14% of COVID-19 patients have difficulty breathing and require further hospitalization and assistance of oxygen concentrator to maintain the oxygen concentration in their blood. 5% of these patients need the support of intensive care unit and ventilators. Therefore, the demand for oxygen concentrator is three to four times that of ventilators.
The North York General Hospital had only 9 oxygen concentrators, it needed to buy another 130 oxygen machines to cope with the ongoing pandemic. After receiving the news, Tzu Chi volunteers started disseminating the news to its network. In just four days, Tzu Chi volunteers managed to raise fund from Canada, Taiwan, the United States, mainland China, South America and other places. All the proceeds from the fundraising were handed over to the hospital's medical equipment department to purchase oxygen concentrators.
By the time the oxygen concentrators were delivered to the hospital, there were COVID-19 infection cases reported in 17 hospitals and 163 nursing homes for the elderly, including North York General Hospital. The number of confirmed cases has increased by 500 per day, while COVID deaths has also increased to 50 to 70 people.
"These oxygen concentrators are of great help, they will be helpful to countless patients in the future," said the manager of the medical equipment department. He also said that these newly purchased oxygen concentrators are helpful to the 24 hospitals and nursing homes in the community that are supported by the medical staff and sensory control specialists from the North York General Hospital as these medical institutions and nursing homes have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Dr. Xing, the Director of General Medicine and Intensive Care Unit further stated that besides the need for oxygen concentrators, the hospital may also add beds in unconventional spaces such as restaurants or conference rooms when the flu season arrives in winter. At these times, mobile oxygen concentrators are helpful to the patients. He said, "Tzu Chi Foundation has given the hospital and respiratory patients a a wonderful gift in the long run by donating these machines that can be used for more than a decade."
The president and CEO of North York General Hospital, Dr. Joshua Tepper thanked Tzu Chi Foundation personally for the donation raised by Tzu Chi. He said, "We are very grateful to Tzu Chi Foundation for sending these lifesaving gifts during this stressful time. It represents the selfless spirit of a group of people with great love."