By Flordeliza Castro Ampatuan, District 3820 Community Service Chair and Assistant Regional Public Image Coordinator for Zone 10B, Philippines
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 cases in the Greater Metro Manila area and Luzon archipelago, the Philippine government enforced a community quarantine on 16 March, 2020.
The exact numbers of healthcare workers, particularly doctors and nurses who have lost their lives while fulfilling their professional duties is still increasing in the Philippines. Exact data may not be accurate, but the fact remains that it may be higher than reported.
There are plenty of contributing factors to this, including patients not telling anyone about their recent travels in places where COVID-19 cases have been reported, exposure to people with the virus and vulnerability associated with existing medical conditions.
Furthermore, the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a global problem that we are facing here as well, and has added to the risks frontline workers face.
The Executive Committee of District 3820, spearheaded by our current District Governor Everett Olivan, decided to utilize the district’s entire calamity (disaster response) fund of $37,000 USD. Each member has contributed $3 USD every year for natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes but due to the urgency of the current situation, the funds were approved to support our community during this time.
With this money, we secured PPEs such as N95 masks, face shields and coverall suits. We coordinated with the Philippine Air Force to seek help in distributing these essential items to hospitals. The direct participation of our district members has never been encouraged to ensure everyone’s safety, but countless members are passionate about being physically engaged in order to ensure frontline workers receive the protection they need.
I am a nurse by profession and work as a hospital care trainer. My spouse is an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse and we discussed the importance of one of us staying home to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and to able to take care of our three-year-old child. Needless to say, I feel that if I can’t be a frontline worker, then, I still want to be valuable to the community by serving as a catalyst to provide PPEs to our healthcare workers. In this little way, I am truly grateful and proud to be a Rotary member and a person of action.
I am truly humbled by the heroism of healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of this battle. Likewise, during this time, we have an opportunity as Rotary members to partner with our communities to lend a helping hand. As Rotary members, working hand in hand, together we will defeat COVID-19.