What would you do to keep your family safe from COVID-19? What if you couldn’t keep your loved ones from being exposed? What if their duty didn’t allow them to stay home? What if they were doctors? When Covid-19 arrived in Mazatlán, Ana Lucía Carrión Román, lawyer and mother of three, said her first reaction was to be scared for her father’s health. Doctor Héctor Carrión Tizcareño is the director of Hospital General de Mazatlán, Martiniano Carvajal, so she knew that while 70% of the medical staff was being sent home, her father would remain working full time.
“I begged him to stay home during the pandemic, but he told me he couldn’t, that his duty was with his team, that now, more than ever, he need to support and guide them,” she said.
As soon as COVID-19 patients started to arrive at the hospital, 40-year old Ana realized there were no special medical supplies available for the staff, so she decided to start a fundraiser among her family and friends to buy what was needed.
“I have donated before to other causes, but very informally. I have never done anything like this before. It was just something I felt I needed to do. It was the least I could do in that situation,” she said.
What started as an individual effort in just a few weeks grew into an army of people willing to help. Ana was able to gather funds to buy thousands of three-layer disposable masks, as well as KN95 masks, plastic overalls, surgical gowns, face shields and antibacterial gel.
Sadly, her biggest challenge was the abuse in prices and inferior quality of some supplies; with the crisis, people took advantage of the anxiety and fear of others and charged astronomical prices for supplies that should be cheaper.
“At the beginning I didn’t know anything about medical supplies, but I was determined to make the best of the trust everyone had in me. So, I had to learn, because people were starting crazy businesses just to sell fake supplies.”
The high prices were not the only problem—the scarcity of some supplies soon became obvious, but she wasn’t going to give up. Instead, she got creative. With the help of her husband and kids, she fabricated plastic coveralls by cutting and hand-sealing together plastic bags.
“They weren’t the highest possible quality, but people at the hospital were grateful to at least have some protection. This type of supply was not something they had ever needed before, so they were unprepared for this situation, and help wasn’t coming from the government,” she explained.
When she posted pictures of her work in social media, many other people started to pitch in not only with money but with their own time and creativity. There even was a family who fabricated a home sanitation tunnel, made with PVC pipe, a garden irrigation system and a Rotoplas water tank.
Eventually, her effort caught the attention of civil associations who joined her, including Origami Vida Interna A.C., who donated two transfer capsules for the isolation of people infected with COVID-19, with a value of $50,000.00 pesos each; and Canacintra who asked her to be part of the Mazatlán Comparte (Mazatlán Shares) campaign where she coordinated donations not only for the General Hospital, but also for ISSTE and IMSS.
Two months ago, her biggest fear came true. Her dad got critically ill after he was diagnosed with not just COVID-19, but with dengue, too. He had to be admitted to the hospital in complete isolation.
“It was horrible, but it allowed me to see a different side of this disease, to understand the families of the patients who spend hours and hours waiting outside the hospital for any news about their loved ones because they are not allowed to see them”.
So, what did she do? She partnered with Fundación Uno Más Uno (the One Plus One Foundation) and organized community kitchens outside the hospital to bring food to the families. Also, she felt the need to thank the medical staff for their hard work so with the help of local bakeries, restaurants and friends, she brought coffee and sweet bread to the hospital staff, as well as meals.
Another huge effort was the contribution of psychological therapy and counsel for the medical staff, who in many cases not only had been isolated for months from their families to avoid any chance of infection, but had to deal with the death of their peers due to COVID-19.
“I’m just a conduit for all the good will of many amazing people who want to help. I have no words to express how grateful I am for their response. All the applause should be for them,” she said.
Fortunately, Ana’s father recovered, but he continues to work daily in the hospital like many others. Now with an office inside the hospital for donations, Ana hopes to be able to create permanent patronage that will continue to help the medical staff.
Help is still needed because the pandemic is far from over. If you would like to donate medical supplies or money, you can contact Ana Lucía Carrión Román at 868.240.3161.