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These Grab doctors are helping fight Covid-19, one delivery at a time

 

By ANGELA CASCO

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If you think the services of doctors are confined in hospitals or medical missions, think again.

A group of doctors are volunteering to deliver donations from donors to frontliners to various hospitals mostly located within Metro Manila.

Called Grab Doctors, their job is similar to regular TNVS drivers, except they’re medical professionals and are using their personal cars—gas expenses, included—to pick up donations from one point and drop them off at another for free when they’re off-duty.

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DRIVER DOCTORS Outside medical facilities, some doctors are volunteering to deliver donations to fellow frontliners

The donations range from personal protective equipment (PPE) to multiple bags of pan de sal, and for all the doctors moving these supplies, helping the fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has been worth every drive.

How it started

“It was just a spur of the moment,” Mariam Grace Delima, one of the many Grab Doctors, tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle when asked how the initiative started. “We do this to help out our colleagues who are most vulnerable because of the nature of their jobs. This is our way of protecting them.”

She and other doctor friends were asking each other where they were headed for the day. Some were taking disinfectant sprays and PPE to the Lung Center of the Philippines, while others were delivering boxes of gloves to another medical facility.

Para tayong [It’s like we are] Grab drivers,” Delima told a fellow doctor, Lara Aleta, who then suggested that they be called Grab Doctors instead.

DRIVER DOCTORS Outside medical facilities, some doctors are volunteering to deliver donations to fellow frontliners

DRIVER DOCTORS Outside medical facilities, some doctors are volunteering to deliver donations to fellow frontliners

As medical personnel, they are among only the few who have been authorized to leave the house under the enhanced community quarantine, which also means that only they can roam freely around the metro. This makes the service they offer doable.

Delima and Aleta were not the only doctors interested in doing this. A few days later, more medical professionals volunteered their services. The group has since considerably grown, with colleagues from as far as Bicol, Cagayan Valley, and Tuguegarao volunteering their resources and free time.

For easier coordination, Delima has created a Viber chatgroup, where they would post “booking” details, including the items, quantity, pick up location, contact person and number, drop off location, and date of delivery.

Through the messaging app, Grab Doctors are also able to implement a “pasa-pasa” system, where volunteers who may be nearer a donation pick-up point can be in charge of the delivery.

Doctor volunteers have so far delivered face shields, masks, aerosol boxes for intubation, PPE, baby monitors, isopropyl alcohol, as well as raw materials like 3D frames, rolls of acetate, among others—all from friends, colleagues, organizations, private individuals, and even previous patients.

Medical background helps

While anyone can drive a car or learn how to, as well as deliver goods from one place to another, not everyone has medical training like Grab Doctors. All the field learnings and experience treating patients make it possible for Delima, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, and fellow volunteers to not only identify what support medical personnel needs inside the hospital, but also to move with a sense of urgency and resourcefulness.

“My training as a surgeon taught me not to sit back,” she says. “We need to be proactive and do what we need to do in every situation. We can’t let a patient die without doing anything. Maybe because of my training at PGH, too, we are used to looking for the needs of our indigent patients. If there are no antibiotics, we will find where we can get. If there are no tools for surgery, we find ways.”

True enough, even before the number of Covid-19 patients in the country skyrocketed and knowing that health workers like her would be dealing with a respiratory disease, Delima has been encouraging colleagues back home in Tacloban to prepare protective equipment like face shields.

Hindi pwede sa akin ang bahala na,” she says. “I know how it is to do intubation and secure the airway of patients so I know what my anesthesia and pulmo colleagues will be dealing with, so I asked for industrial face shields and everything I can get to them that will help.”

 

Beyond donations, bayanihan

More than the donations, however, Delima considers the response to the call for donations as the most moving aspect of the initiative.

“The overwhelming answer to my call for help is more memorable than the actual deliveries,” she says. “Knowing that there are a lot of good people out there and a lot of colleagues with the same mindset makes it more special to me.”

Even friends outside the medical field have all expressed their interest and excitement to donate and do delivery rounds. Couples have also given their baby monitors that other babies can benefit from in hospitals.

 

Ready to serve

Delima, who is affiliated with most hospitals in Manila, says apart from being permitted to go out of the house and go around the metro, she also attends to non-Covid-19 treatment, particularly emergency surgical procedures.

At the moment, internists, intensivists, pulmonologists, and respiratory specialists are in charge of responding to and treating Covid-19 patients.

The surgeon is helping out through online consultation of patients, facilitating their admission, advising them on appropriate steps to take, and checking on them daily.

Should Covid-19-stricken individuals need surgical procedures or if the number of cases continues to rise, Delima says she’s willing to “treat them myself” and “co-manage patients with fellow practitioners.”

 

How everyone can help

For donations in need of pick up and delivery, donors can simply send a message to Delima on Facebook (facebook.com/micmicd) or any of her fellow volunteers.

For Delima, though, contributing in the fight against Covid-19 does not always mean material or monetary donation. It can be as simple as doing what is necessary, especially for those with non-essential work.

“We can just stick to doing what is necessary and possible—staying at home, enjoying family time, being kind, uplifting each other, sharing what we can, sending encouraging messages to the sick or anyone needing it, and praying for healing,” she writes in a Facebook post. “And with our bayanihan spirit, resilience, Filipino humor, and faith, we can do this.



Source: Manila Bulletin ( https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/04/14/these-grab-doctors-are-helping-fight-covid-19-one-delivery-at-a-time/)

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