What started as a canceled spring semester abroad for some University of New Hampshire (UNH) students planning on attending China’s Chengdu University, ultimately led Yige Wang and a handful of others to pursue financial and medical donations to the Chengdu University Affiliated Hospital. With the coronavirus outbreak beginning in late Dec. of 2019, lack of money and resources to battle the virus has become a problem.
Students like Ethan Crossman who were planning to study abroad at Chengdu University, now have to remain at UNH for the spring semester due to the sudden outbreak. Crossman is a sophomore linguistics and geography major who planned to study abroad in China where he would study Chinese.
“The trip was canceled because at the time the U.S. State Office or some government agency had recommended against any group traveling to China,” Crossman said. “Now, I think the restrictions have gotten much more severe. At first, it was honestly so random and shocking. I still had a month off and then to be told I have to start class the next day was quite a weird experience.”
After the canceled trip, it wasn’t long before faculty and students alike came together to start a donation process for the Chengdu University Affiliated Hospital. Wang, the director for the UNH Confucius Institute, had to inform the students of their canceled spring trip, but she also helped start the donation process. Although many people working at and with the Confucius Institute started aide and donations, the Confucius Institute itself was not involved with the donations to align with the university’s regulations regarding donations. Rather, there were individuals who made the choice to donate to the cause aside from the institute. The donations have come from students, faculty, community members and even a donation from Wang’s cousins in Taiwan. The money being raised for the Chengdu Affiliated Hospital will be used to purchase supplies; only supplies in shortage are being sent over, not money. The supplies are being purchased in bulk from Amazon and Rite-Aid.
The most challenging part has been getting these items to China. On Wednesday, Feb. 5, Wang drove down to Boston Logan International Airport to send the supplies on a United Airlines flight that two of her friends were taking to China. The first flight was canceled, but they were able to reschedule for Thursday, Feb. 6 at 5:30 a.m. Due to the prior cancelation, United Airlines waived the extra shipping fee.
“The first batch of goods – 5000 surgical gloves, 2000 surgical masks and 50 head to toe protective surgical gear are now on their way to Chengdu,” Wang said on Feb. 6. “Chengdu University Affiliated Hospital will someone waiting at the airport to pick up our donation and also provide receipts, actual photos and more. We are hoping there is no more twists along the journey. Very few airlines are operating in China at the moment, all U.S. airlines have stopped their China flights a few days ago. How to send our donations over becomes a serious challenge. We are hoping to express ship out 785 protective surgical wear this Friday.”
The original outbreak started in Wuhan, but Wang and the individuals working on the donations wanted to send the supplies to their partners in Chengdu. Wuhan has also received a large amount of donations since the outbreak, where other cities are struggling just as much and receiving very little. Chengdu University has a large affiliated hospital next to a train station; even though Chengdu is not at the center of the outbreak, there have been quite a few confirmed cases with many more to be diagnosed and properly treated. The hospital is overwhelmed with the number of patients with coughs and fever; although not all of them are coronavirus patients, each individual needs to be properly screened and diagnosed.
“You can imagine when everyone in a city of 19 million needs masks, there will be critical shortage,” Wang said.
Wang stressed that as the days go on the situation is getting more and more serious. Prices in the United States are rising and the need for supplies in China is growing every day.
“Chengdu University’s Office of International Students and Scholars reached out to us saying its campus police and clinic and kitchen staff have no masks to go around,” Wang said. There is a shortage here too with the price on masks soaring more than four to five times of what it was used to be two weeks ago. The $2,000 donation from Taiwan resulted in 1,200 isolation gowns going to Nanyang Central Hospital of Henan Province with many confirmed patients in that hospital. With most of the donations to Wuhan, they were left out, so we are sending this to them.”
The individuals donating to help fight the detriments of the coronavirus have currently raised around $7,000. This money has been divided up to donate 5,000 pairs of surgical gloves, 2,000 surgical masks, 50 protective surgical gowns, 285 surgical isolation gowns and 500 surgical gowns. The surgical gloves, masks and gowns have already been received. The 285 surgical isolation gowns are expected to arrive on Feb. 15 and the 500 surgical gowns are expected to arrive next Wednesday. In addition, there are 1,200 isolation gowns will be sent this Saturday to Nanyang Central Hospital of Henan Province. There will be 1,500 masks sent to Chengdu University this Saturday for its security guards, clinical health workers and dining services workers. The final donation will be 2,000 more masks, which will be sent to Chengdu University Affiliated Hospital next week.