'Donate a support kit, let the goodness transmit' is an effort to help isolated coronavirus patients with basic needs while they are being treated in Turkish hospitals.
Many patients with severe coronavirus symptoms walk into Turkish hospitals unprepared and when they are admitted for the long haul, isolated from their families and other patients, they find themselves in need of basic supplies such as pyjamas, slippers, paper towels, wet wipes, toothpaste and brushes.
Ilker Balkan, a doctor at the department of infectious diseases at Istanbul’s Cerrahpasa Medical School, noticed some patients lying in their 'sick beds in their trousers and shirts'.
"They were wearing shoes to the bathroom," Balkan told TRT World. "And then it hit me, that none of them came here thinking that they would be admitted. They were totally unprepared. We had to take them in, suspend all the visitations but we forgot to ask them whether they needed anything?”
Balkan realised the dilemma they were facing in his hospital, as patients were not allowed to leave their rooms and healthcare workers had to reduce their contact with coronavirus patients to minimum. Things were evolving so quickly in Turkey as the first official case was reported on March 11 and the number of confirmed cases jumped to 10,827 within 20 days.
He thought he should do something before the loneliness triggered a feeling of despair among patients, ruining their emotional state.
He was quick to reach out to a local nonprofit named Doctors Worldwide Turkey (DWT), where he has volunteered from time to time.
Sefa Simsek, Head of Programs & Operations at DWT, responded positively and he soon charted out a campaign naming it in Turkish, Destek Kiti Ulaştırın, İyilik Bulaştırın, which means 'Donate a support kit, let the goodness transmit.'
They started their campaign by distributing personal care kits at Cerrahpasa Hospital, where Balkan works.
Simsek's team started making phone calls to hospitals informing them about the campaign and slowly the word spread. Now hospitals call them when they see patients in need. So far the association has distributed 775 kits to the needy.
Umit Cevher Kete, 26, is volunteering for the campaign. He says he's been trained to take 'precautionary measures' to protect himself while delivering personal hygiene kits to patients battling the coronavirus.
"Despite the fact that many of us are healthy and strong, many of us also do know there could be someone among our family, relatives or acquaintances in high risk coronavirus category. So we feel the need to step up for the thousands of our people who are all alone, vulnerable and helpless in hospital rooms,” Kete told TRT World.
Umit said the hospital authorities do not allow volunteers to be in direct contact with patients. But they did receive a warm welcome from doctors. Recently a group of doctors at the hospital garden thanked him and his organisation and then took pictures with him. "They were truly grateful for the kits as they kept saying the patients were in need of a morale boost more than medicines right now.”
Umit wanted to do more after hearing the stories of elderly, especially those who have never been apart from their spouses, children or homes. “Doctors repeatedly said Covid-19 patients’ mental state was deteriorating faster than their physical health condition,” he said.
“I feel proud of my team and our work when I think of a patient who sleeps comfortably and peacefully in the pyjamas we provided. We’ll get through these difficult times as we stand shoulder to shoulder against calamities. I believe healthy days are around the corner.”
Dr. Yahyahan Guney, chairman of the board for Yeryuzu Doktorları Association (Doctors Worldwide) says: “We can contribute to goodness from our homes by donating an essential toiletries kit for coronavirus patients that are admitted unprepared.”
You can write DESTEK and send an SMS to 6612 for 10 TL. There is credit card option and online transfer possible through organisation’s website.