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Local doctor donates PPE amid COVID-19 outbreak

Michael Chen, a physician at University Hospital Portage Medical Center, has helped make a huge difference in the fight against COVID-19 by donating PPE to communities in Wuhan, China and here in Cleveland, Ohio. Chen had been corresponding with friends in Wuhan when he learned how limited supplies were complicating conditions for health care workers. Dr. Chen’s colleagues, the Holsingers, were witnessing the devastating supply shortage firsthand while working at an international clinic and orphanage in China. Drs Brian and Eva reached out to Chen, seeking donations of PPE. Chen worked locally to secure donations, including a large one from MedWish at the start of February. “It was an amazing outpouring of support and it was with deep gratitude that I sent out the first huge moving box to my friends who received and distributed the gear a month ago.”

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Dr. Chen felt inspired to continue his efforts to supply his colleagues in Wuhan, so he spent time procuring masks and other protective gear from eBay. At the same time, COVID-19 began spreading in the US, as the spread began to slow in China. He and the Holsingers debated on the destination of the next shipment, and ultimately decided to keep the gear stateside. “It was a difficult decision where to donate the masks because the needs were so great in so many places, but I had been so incredibly grateful for MedWish and their support…that I thought about seeing if they could use it.” MedWish was honored to receive the donations, and has already connected these vital supplies to major healthcare facilities where they will be put to use protecting front-line responders.

“This role as care providers in some sense is our sacred duty, both to our patients but also to our friends and co-workers with whom we are joining forces to fight this epidemic.” Chen attributes his actions to his faith. He recalled lines of scripture on his way to MedWish to drop off his donation of PPE. “As a family physician, I have been confronted daily with the reality that, on any given day, my staff and I are potentially putting ourselves at risk as we care for our patients. We are having difficulty restocking? our protective equipment because there is a huge national shortage, and to be honest, our risks are far less than those heroic health care workers who are taking care of the sickest patients in the hospitals across the country.” 

Dr. Chen looks at the impact of his donations as poetic, “in a world so divided by politics and strife, it is a picture of grace that can be present when we put aside our differences and work together for the common good. He is grateful that, with MedWish’s assistance, these supplies can be offered to those near and far, as long as they are used for good.

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