Aid arrived on Thursday for a historic religious-run animal shelter as it strives to maintain its mission to care for orphans, the homeless and the elderly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, an affected person who helps the nuns of the Daughters of Charity, who runs the Hospicio de San Jose on Isla de Convalecencia, a narrow island on the Pasig in Quiapo, Manila, called for help.
Established during the Spanish era and one of the oldest social services in the country, the Hospicio is currently on lockdown to contain the COVID-19 virus that has infected a number of its elderly residents and employees.
A plea for milk and other foods, as well as diapers for infants and adults, has gone viral on social media. The Catholic broadcaster Radio Veritas and a lay apostolate from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have made the same appeal on their Facebook pages.
Milk, vitamin C.
A Hospicio staff member who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak to a reporter said Thursday 23 people had been infected on the premises. She said an elderly resident died recently but not from COVID-19.
The Manila city government said it was reviewing its records to find the cause of the infections. Dr. Arnold Pangan, the city’s health officer, said Hospicio staff and adult residents were next in line to vaccinate.
“There were a lot of donations this morning,” said the employee over the phone to the investigator. “So far we are fine. We have nurses and [medical] Staff here. [But] We need milk and vitamin C. “
In medical emergencies, residents of Hospicio are taken in an ambulance to their partner, San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay City, she said.
An Inquirer photographer saw a Philippine Red Cross vehicle pulling into the grounds with rice, vegetables and biscuits on Thursday. The vehicle was greeted by a male employee in full protective gear.
A donor who deposited an amount into the Hospicio account at Metrobank (account number 175-3-17550678-1) said the nuns had “some supplies for orphans and the elderly that could last a week”.
The donor expressed hope that aid would arrive in cash or in kind by the end of the week. According to the donor, the “main problem” is the “needy population” who supported the Hospicio with food and support.
“The grocery stores for the homeless were already low before this lockdown,” said the donor.
CBCP’s Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas announced early Thursday that 14 employees and four of the 19 elderly residents had tested positive for COVID-19. There are around 450 people on the site.
Part of the online message read: “You are not allowed to leave Isla de Convalecencia. They are running out of food because no one is donating for them and the sisters are worried about the children and the elders. “
Like a cruise ship
Founded in 1810, the Hospicio de San Jose cares for orphans, people with disabilities and the elderly who are exposed on the streets of Manila.
At its entrance gate, accessible via the Ayala Bridge, there is a tarpaulin announcing that the Hospicio will be quarantined from March 15.
Entry and exit has been restricted since then, with the exception of emergencies or the delivery of important items. “Hospicio is like a cruise ship, so these measures are carried out in the best interests of our customers and employees,” says the message on the tarpaulin.
Founded in 1782
The shelter was founded in 1782 and first established in Pandacan, Manila. It was relocated to the walled city of Intramuros and finally built in its current location on Isla de Convalecencia in 1810.
In the early years the facility served as a hospital for the convalescence of Spanish soldiers and smallpox patients. It also served as an asylum for the mentally ill. In 1865 the Daughters of Charity took over the management. In 1935 babies were admitted who were discreetly handed over by parents who could no longer look after them.
By October 2020, the Hospicio had 142 children and young people in its care. – With a report from Inquirer Research
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