A Cebuano doctor has found a way to provide around a hundred medical frontliners in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) with powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) that they can use to protect themselves as they take care of Covid-19 patients.
Dr. Alvin Roxas’s initiative to protect the frontliners who are directly taking care of Covid-19 patients in VSMMC has inspired private individuals and businessmen to also donate several PAPRs, which cost around P25,000 per unit.
Roxas works as a consultant in VSMMC and in other private hospitals in Cebu.
“That’s the least we can do for our forward frontliners who risk their lives to protect us. The least we can do is to make sure that they are also protected,”
Fighting for lives
He said that after witnessing many of his fellow medical frontliners in VSMMC fight for their lives after contracting Covid-19 in their course of work during the first months of the pandemic, he and some close friends started to help by giving out free protective masks and distributing personal protective equipment at the hospital.
He said he first thought of personally donating at least two PAPRs before he came up with the idea to invite his close friends, who are also into helping calamity victims and other sectors in need, to participate and donate for the cause so they can cater to more frontliners.
These friends, he said, are not new to charity work as he called them his “usual victims” in helping him conduct his charity work before during calamities such as floods and earthquakes.
“It started with a pledge that, ‘OK, I’ll have two units,’ then another one said ‘Okay, I’ll have one unit,’ and suddenly a company told me, ‘Okay, Doc, we’ll have 10 units.’ Then another company said, ‘Ten units for us too’,” he recalled in a mix of Cebuano and English.
By this time, he said, he was already happy with the thought that he might actually raise funds enough to purchase around 30 units of PAPR.
He was able to come up with 35 units of PAPR from several donors that he was able to distribute to carefully-chosen nurses and resident doctors assigned in the red zone of VSMMC on July 10, 2020.
He said since the equipment is pricey, many actually wished to acquire the donated PAPR.
After this, he said, donations for PAPR continued to pour in as he started receiving calls from other people who also expressed to help more frontliners in the initiative.
These benefactors, whom he did not name, donated 65 PAPRs more, which made it possible for them to distribute PAPRs to all VSMMC nurses and resident doctors deployed in the red zone and a few of those handling Covid-patients undergoing dialysis last Aug. 28, his birthdate.
After this, he said, they decided to extend the project to the medical technologists of the VSMMC who are assigned in the free swabbing area of the hospital.
This time, he said, they wanted to protect medical technologists who are doing the swab tests as people, accepting that RT-PCR tests are important, now come in droves.
Roxas said majority of those who have received the PAPRs (now about a hundred and costing a total of around P2.5 million) are nurses, some resident doctors, and 12 medical technologists.
He believes he has done his part, but should there still be more people who would like to share monetary resources for this cause, he said he will gladly continue to help facilitate the turnover of this important protective equipment.