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Tzu Chi Medical Garners Support and Momentum from the Amplify Health: 2021 Virtual Gala

Tzu Chi Medical Foundation  | April 29, 2021
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Tzu Chi Medical volunteers prepare for an event to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in California. Photo/Audrey Cheng

Written by Audrey Cheng
Translated by Evan Wang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, ordinary healthcare needs have continued and many have been left neglected. To ensure that the facilities and programs of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, also known as tzu Chi Medical, can better prepare to treat its patients and community members ongoing needs, Tzu Chi USA hosted the “Amplify Health” virtual gala on March 20, 2021. The online event raised funds for Tzu Chi’s medical mission, which encompasses Tzu Chi Medical’s efforts. The goal: to raise money for new and upgraded equipment, facility and medical program development, and ultimately, better serve the community as it overcomes the pandemic.

Medical staff and volunteers busy at work administering the COVID-19 vaccine, procured in part thanks to Tzu Chi Medical’s FQHC Look-Alike status.

That Saturday evening, to kick off the event, Tzu Chi Medical Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stephen Denq and more than 50 medical staff members and volunteers participated in a virtual chorus of “In Praise of Medical Professionals.” They sang in both English and Chinese. Though those singing were not professional singers, it was a joyful and touching  sight to see the Tzu Chi Medical family come together in song. Then, Dr. Denq shared a message of thanks with all who were watching, including his fellow colleagues. He acknowledged their hard work in being able to procure a new milestone in healthcare, saying that “after three and a half years of hard work, on October 26, 2020 we were finally awarded as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike.”

This federal designation allows Tzu Chi Medical’s operations and capacities as a health center to expand and do more for patients. Specifically, Tzu Chi Medical will be able to further assist uninsured and underinsured individuals with a sliding fee scale system. This coincides with the missions of Tzu Chi’s Health Centers, which began in 1993, to serve the underprivileged and those who otherwise faced barriers, economic or social, in getting quality healthcare services. In his remarks, Dr. Denq emphasized that, “we very much welcome vulnerable groups to visit Tzu Chi Health Centers; serving these people is Tzu Chi’s tradition and mission!”

As a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, Tzu Chi Medical was able to procure doses of COVID-19 vaccines to administer to anyone who qualified from among the general public. The first step was to set up a bilingual hotline in English and Chinese to ensure that members of our Asian American communities could register with greater ease. By the end of January, healthcare facilities across California received a second batch of vaccines; yet, after this initial supply, vaccines were issued on a week-by-week basis. By mid-March, more than 1,000 doses of the vaccine had been given out by Tzu Chi’s Health Centers in California. Of the effort, Dr. Denq expressed:

Maintaining the health of patients and community residents is the mission and responsibility of Tzu Chi Medical.

Dr. Julie Lam (left), Chief Medical Officer of Tzu Chi Medical, and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Wang (right) carefully draw vaccines.

On January 13th, the chairman of the board of directors of Tzu Chi Medical, Dr. William Keh, made a wish to be able to vaccinate 1,000 people. However, when they had only received 100 doses of the vaccine with no future supply in certainty, his goal seemed like a pipe dream. Luckily, they were able to cross this threshold in March. It fulfilled not only Dr. Keh’s wish, but it was an achievement that was working to safeguard public health in Southern California. In fact, Those who had received their vaccines courtesy of Tzu Chi Medical gave us a hearty thumbs-up.

The phone line is always open, the service is so good, it's easy to register, and I’m so lucky that such a service exists!

During the gala broadcast, Dr. Keh expressed great gratitude for everyone’s generosity and support. He expressed his confidence that Tzu Chi Medical could now be capable of providing more services to more patients, recruiting more caring volunteers, and providing even stronger patient-centered healthcare. Dr. Keh also declared his goal of heralding the expansion of Tzu Chi Health Centers across the states and being able to touch more people with humanistic care and encourage healthier lifestyles.

While waiting 15 minutes to be monitored after receiving their vaccines, Tzu Chi volunteers take the opportunity to chat with care recipients about Tzu Chi Medical’s mission and services.

With the help and power of every good-hearted person, Tzu Chi Medical can indeed bolster the services it provides at its health centers, mobile clinics, domestic and international outreaches, and healthy community programs. Finally, Dr. Keh acknowledged his colleagues for working together to overcome the many difficulties of the pandemic, rising not just to meet the standards, but to exceed them.

We have always adhered to the teachings of our Dharma Master: faith in selflessness and faith in love. Everything Tzu Chi and volunteers do is without any hint of selfishness, only compassion for the suffering of all the people.

Dr. William Keh, Tzu Chi Medical Board of Directors Chairperson

The two-hour program was a close-up of the moving stories of Tzu Chi Medical’s activities in the United States and around the world. As the audience was moved during the sign language performance of “Embrace All,” the fundraising meter reached and exceeded the fundraising target. At the end of the program, volunteers thanked all the participants, for thanks to all who have shown Tzu Chi Medical their support, more people may live healthier, happier lives.

You can support us in our mission to bring patient-centered care to those who need it most.

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