MANILA -- News of the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until April 30 came as no surprise to many as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with no long-term relief in sight. Businesses and families are actually preparing themselves for another extension that could run into weeks, perhaps even months.
As if we don’t have enough concerns, one more problem we can add to this drawn-out battle is the depletion of already meager resources.
The shortage of hospital beds, facilities to house patients under investigation (PUI) or under monitoring (PUM), even protective gear for medical front liners are just some items in a very long wish list for us to win this pandemic fight.
That’s why the stories of Architect William Ti, photographer Willy Saw and financial services specialist Jocelyn Sy make for a refreshing break to gloomy headlines on fatalities and continued viral spread.
Five-Day Emergency Quarantine Facility
When the ECQ started, Architect William Ti realized that as the number of COVID-19 patients grew, hospitals will be overwhelmed. To flatten the curve, PUIs will need to be contained in one place to control the spread of the virus.
With this in mind, he launched the Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQF) project together with fellow architects, contractors, and suppliers of materials.
“With the growth of the virus being so fast, we saw the need for speed and scalability. The structure has to be simple enough that it can be built quickly in 5 days. It has to use materials that are readily available and understood so most workers can work with it and it can be scaled up not just throughout the city but nationwide,” explained Ti.
It only takes 5 days to build one EQF: 3 days for construction, 1 day for finishing and one day to complete interior and on-boarding. Every EQF will have 15 beds and two toilets. Patients and healthcare workers will have different entrances with doctors having their own external testing box to check patients without having to go inside the facility. Airflow is directed one way from front to rear with side vents that discharge air away from each bed and prevent recirculation.
Hoping to reach many donors and partners, Ti set up a website and shared all the relevant information as well as updates on EQFs.
“We've made the designs open source and put them up online, so everyone can have access to them. It is our hope that more groups would take up the designs and do with them as they please so we can build more facilities faster,” he said.
Ti is eyeing to build 60 EQFs in critical hospital sites and have completed 13 so far. These EQFs can be found in Metro Manila and in key sites in Luzon including the Manila Naval Hospital and PNP Regional Health Service - NCR Police Office in Taguig City, and Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo Station Hospital, Quezon City General Hospital, V. Luna General Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and Fe Del Mundo Medical Center in Quezon City.
Lt. Col. Henry Espinosa, Commanding Officer of the 12 Marine Battalion who was the first recipient of the EQF thanked Ti and his team on behalf of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Marine Corps.
“Architect Ti’s initiative will save lives and prevent the spread of these deadly virus by providing easy to construct facility that can be assembled in a short time and now operational catering to the requirements of the frontline fleet-marine troops.”
Work is ongoing in 28 more sites and they hope to start on 19 more when funds become available. Donations in cash and kind (such as food for construction workers) are welcome and details can be found at www.wtadesignstudio.com/eqf.
“We cannot just let things happen, we should all come together as a community for us to get through this crisis,” added Ti.
As a photographer, Willy Saw’s profession was one of those hard hit by the ECQ. Corporate events were cancelled and family activities also suspended until things take a turn for the better.
When he saw a Facebook post from a doctor friend asking if anyone can make an acrylic aerosol box, Saw who started a fabrication business years ago decided to take up the challenge.
Aerosol acrylic boxes lessen the exposure of medical front liners from droplets and aerosol while intubating patients positive with COVID-19. Saw was surprised at the overwhelming response his project received. Generous donors including one whose husband tested positive for COVID-19 provided Saw the funds to keep producing the boxes.
“Throughout these weeks, I have encountered different people from doctors, friends, classmates, donors and strangers that rise above themselves and doing acts of bravery and heroism. I have donors that ordered and delivered the boxes by themselves to hospitals, some even went the extra mile by going to provincial hospitals just to bring the boxes. Donors that gave funding without any conditions. Doctors that picked up the boxes and helped distribute to theirs and other hospitals. For all these, I just want to say ‘Thank you very much’ for doing extraordinary things in this challenging time,” said Saw.
He made special mention of Lalamove driver Lolito Adaya and wife Helen who picked up boxes for delivery. Saw was having a hard time booking a ride then. Adaya explained that in spite of the danger they had to go out and make ends meet, but he and his wife are committed to donate half of their earnings and keep the other half for their family needs.
Saw’s boxes have been donated to the Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City, the St. Luke’s Medical Center, the Quezon City General Hospital and the UERM Memorial Hospital in Quezon City, the Pasay General Hospital, as well as to the Phil. General Hospital.
If you wish to help Saw make more of #TheseBoxesCanSaveLives, search for the hashtag for more details, or you can send a private message to Willy Saw via Facebook.
War Room for COVID-19
Jocelyn Sy just moved into her new home a few months ago, and the ECQ would have been a perfect time to unpack what remained of her moving boxes and finally settle in.
Instead, the pandemic crisis added more boxes to her home and her garage had to be transformed into a COVID-19 war room.
“It started a few days after the ECQ took effect. My good friend Linda Choy asked me to help her friend look for plastic cover that can be used as improvised breathing aids. With many retail stores closed, I turned to my network for help and used all the connections I had in different messaging apps,” related Sy.
A financial services specialist, Sy counts many doctors as clients and they also reached out to her for assistance. They needed face shields, surgical masks, alcohol, goggles, even raincoats.
“I decided to help source materials as well as donors and set up a system to distribute these to doctors and hospitals. My missionaries of Mary for Christ group found out that I have all the supplies needed by the hospitals so they started the fund raising campaign. Since they too are stuck at home and cannot go out, I handled the sourcing and delivery,” explained Sy.
She was introduced to Bonnie Tan who had just started a face shield project for medical front liners. One thing led to another, and she discovered many more Good Samaritans including foam supplier Kenneth Pe who donated the foams and they came pre-cut so they can save more time, retailer Jojo Chan who opened his store so they could source much-needed acetate and double-sided tapes, S-KS Tools Corporation who donated goggles, and Lotus Philippines who also donated goggles as well as N95 masks.
Sy’s central team included her travel buddies Linda Choy, Christine Wong and Ingrid Lim.
“We helped each other in sourcing and looking for donors because there were so many appeals for help and we could not even sleep worrying where to get these for the medical front liners.”
To date, Sy and her friends have provided assistance to front liners from more than 40 hospitals including the Metropolitan Medical Center and the Chinese General Hospital.
“To all the donors that made this possible, I really cannot thank them enough. Many simply donated their items or some offered it to us at cost. It felt good that the doctors who came to us asking for help to source the materials and expecting they will have to pay for it to protect themselves no longer had to. Their work is all the sacrifice we need,” said Sy.
Busy attending to the needs of the medical health workers, Sy discovered it was a great way to relieve her stress and take away her fear for COVID-19.
“The runway is still quite long but I am now more hopeful to take this journey with so many kind souls and generous donors. I pray we will all find a kinder world at the end of this pandemic.”
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.
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