A local Trenton physician and community organization teamed up to provide much needed supplies for frontline health care workers and senior residents in Trenton.
Dr. Vedat Obuz, an internist affiliated with the Capital Health-Regional Medical Center, and the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), a community advocacy organization, began their local support in the area by donating personal protective equipment (PPE) in the thousands to frontline healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 outbreak at the Medical Center in Trenton on May 13.
“The driving force for me to get involved is that I have worked in Trenton for more than 20 years. I am part of Capital Health-Regional Medical Center where we donated the equipment,” Obuz said. “This is a community-based hospital and I realized we were going to be having a high surge of patients coming to the hospital and knew that supplies would dwindle. My good friend, TASC National Co-chair Halil Mutlu, asked me to find the right place to donate these goods. I said the Capital Health system was the place.”
Helping others before himself is a key philosophy for Obuz and as soon as the coronavirus pandemic began he started to think of ways to get involved with helping fight the virus on the front lines.
“This was my niche and felt that I have done a good job of getting things together,” Obuz said. “TASC should get most of the credit. I am just a mediator and coordinator. I should not get any credit it should go to all of the people that provided these supplies.”
Capital Health-Regional Medical Center received donations of 1,000 COVID-19 HAZMAT gowns, 2,500 face masks and are set to give hospital staff 1,000 N95 masks and 1,000 face shields.
TASC has support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Turkey and receives PPE equipment from manufacturers in Ankara the capital of Turkey, according to Obuz.
“People donate the money for the goods and the next step will be going to the Turkish Government Ministry of Health and getting permission to export the equipment from Turkey to send to the United States,” Obuz said. “The manufacturers create the equipment mainly for the Turkish health system and any oversupply or overstock they send to us with permission from the government.”
He added that none of the equipment is from the black market, but all from the manufacturers in Turkey.
TASC reached out to Obuz once the COVID-19 pandemic hit the east coast of the United States, specifically when the virus hit New York.
“When they realized how difficult the virus was going to be, they knew supplies would be needed and began reaching out to connections in Turkey,” Obuz said.
During the week of May 16, the donation of PPE was not the only way Obuz and TASC helped the Trenton community.
They donated a two-week food supply on May 15 to the Reading Senior Center in Trenton for their seniors that also included 2,500 donated washable masks.
“From fresh fruits, dry goods to supplies, we wanted to help the elderly at the Reading Senior Center strengthen their immunities. One of my office practice locations is in the heart of Trenton and I am talking to patients who are stuck in their homes about they need,” Obuz said. “Some of the elders were not able to go out shopping and did not have help. I have a relationship with Reading Senior Center for 15 years and wanted to give them a hand.”
He added that he wanted to have the elders get at least one reusable mask for themselves or possibly two and three with the donations.
“I want people to take away the idea of getting involved and doing good. People need to get involved in bring goods to people,” Obuz said. “People who need us sometimes do not verbalize it. We need to open the discussion and door. All I did was open the door and realize what they needed.”