When it became clear that local healthcare facilities would face a shortage of critical supplies in the coming weeks, a group of more than 300 Chinese Americans from across Arizona came together to answer the call.
Among them is Oro Valley resident Fang Fung, who pulled up to the loading docks of Oro Valley Hospital Thursday morning with several boxes of Level 1 masks in the trunk of her SUV.
Donning a face mask and gloves, Fung spoke with thankful hospital executives as an employee loaded the donation on a hand cart.
“We need to help health workers because of the lack of masks,” Fung said. “We need to support the first line first.”
That support of local healthcare professionals isn’t limited to Oro Valley. The Chinese American COVID-19 Relief AZ group is responsible for several similar donations at hospitals across Arizona. The group has also made stops at Banner Health facilities in Tucson and the Greater Phoenix Area, the Dignity Health Foundation, the Chandler Regional Medical Center and the Golder Ranch Fire District on Tucson’s north side.
Fung initiated the local effort and was introduced through a mutual friend to organizers in Phoenix. Both parties realized they could have a greater impact together.
“We all have the same wish,” Fung said. “We hope healthcare workers can protect themselves when they're working with others. It was easy to get people involved.”
The group operates through a Facebook page, Chinese Americans Covid-19 Relief AZ, which was founded in early March. A GoFundMe page was set up March 18, and currently sits at $48,000 of its $50,000 goal, though the group said they’ve surpassed that goal with outside donations.
The group is also soliciting matching donations from local businesses.
Donations are made through the Arizona Hope Chinese School in Tempe, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2000. School board member Susan Liu is responsible for the fundraising page.
“As citizens of an international community, we stood in solidarity with those in Asia earlier this year who were struggling through the initial outbreak of a deadly and unknown virus,” Liu said in a group statement. "As the virus threatens to overwhelm our own homes, the Chinese-American community has, without hesitance, thrown our efforts behind local hospitals and the incredible responsibilities they must shoulder."
With the funds they’ve already raised, Fung said the group has purchased more than 160,000 Level 1 masks from Chinese manufacturers.
Because of safety concerns, the volunteer group has dedicated a handful of members to checking the quality of their donations to make sure they match FDA standards, and they’ve contacted more than 100 vendors to find the best quality PPE they can afford.
With healthcare workers bracing for the potential surge in patients, the donations couldn’t come at a more opportune time.
“We are thrilled to receive this donation of PPE for our staff,” said Oro Valley Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Erinn Oller. “The community has been amazing and has really come together to support our team. We are truly grateful.”
Oro Valley Hospital received 5,000 on Thursday, April 9 and Fung said the group is planning to donate another 3,000.
As they continue to raise funds, Fung said the group hopes to begin making donations to local elder care communities.
“I am so glad our hope came true and that we can support our community and our health workers,” she said.