Kluang is the second worst-affected town by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Johor. As the General Hospital faces severe shortage in personal protective equipment, Tzu Chi volunteers rush to produce face shields, guarding the safety of frontline personnel.
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to worsen in Malaysia, the Government has implemented a nationwide Movement Control Order from March 18 to April 14, 2020. The Ministry of Health Malaysia has also announced the list of hospitals designated to screen and treat COVID-19 patients. As Kluang is the second worst-affected area in Johor, the Johor Health Department has identified the Hospital Enche’ Besar Hajjah Khalsom (HEBHK) in Kluang to be one of the COVID-19 treatment hospitals beginning March 25.
While the hospital strives to cope with the urgent mission, it not only faces issues in mobilizing manpower, but also a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for its healthcare personnel. Whilst waiting for the Government’s material distribution, the hospital is looking for support and donation from the public to fight against the pandemic.
Single-use protective equipment including facemasks, face shields and protective clothing are extremely high in usage. The hospital fears that its existing stock is insufficient to meet the surge in demand. It has been difficult to acquire face shields even with the hike in price of up to four times. Upon learning this, Tzu Chi volunteers rushed to produce two face-shield prototypes for review by the hospital. The hospital officer, Asmizul, was satisfied with the design and hoped that Tzu Chi will provide 500 face shields for the hospital as soon as possible.
Giving support for the frontline workers
As medical personnel are saving lives at the frontline, Tzu Chi volunteers hope to back the front liners by giving them the support they need and protecting their safety. After urgently purchasing the required materials, ten volunteers were assembled to produce the face shields. All volunteers involved were required to wash their hands, wear a facemask and head cover, and keep a distance of one metre between people as protective measures.
Volunteer Pang Siew Lin’s daughter, Shey Min, is a nurse. She has just been transferred from Johor Bharu to HEBHK to care for its COVID-19-positive patients. As a mother, one will inevitably worry about the safety of one’s child. Hence, Siew Lin seized the opportunity to sign up for the face shield making task, hoping that the face shields she makes herself will protect the safety of her daughter and other medical staff.
Following hours of hard work, the volunteers made and handed over 275 face shields to the HEBHK in the afternoon of March 25. The face shields were received by Nora of the hospital’s social work department with joy. The volunteers delivered another 300 face shields the following day.
In addition, Tzu Chi has sent the face shields to the medical workers at several dialysis centres in the area. Dr Ang Hui Ching, the medical doctor in charge of Impian Kluang Dialysis Centre, has expressed difficulty in obtaining face shields to Tzu Chi. Upon learning of her concerns, the volunteers sent 40 face shields to the dialysis centre in the same afternoon. At the same time, Tzu Chi also sent few tens of face shields to the Rotary Kluang Haemodialysis Centre and the NKF Dialysis Centre.
Five other health clinics in Kluang have also received 15 to 40 face shields on March 29, as a gesture of care and support from Tzu Chi. In view of the current shortage situation, Tzu Chi volunteers will do their best to purchase materials and continue the effort to produce more face shields for the frontline warriors who are working hard to protect the lives of the people.