March 20, 2020

Dear UPMASA family:

The burden of the pandemic with COVID-19 has, at the very least, consumed all our attention and disrupted our lives.

The impact this had on our alumni organization is also considerable. The effect of this contagion had prompted us to have three Emergency Meetings amongst the Executive Board of Governors Committee in the last month.

As officers of our chapter and national alumni organization, amidst the spreading threat of the virus we confronted a decision about our upcoming Spring Face to Face Board of Governors meeting. This was planned to be held April 17 and 18, 2020 in conjunction with the Chapter Treasurers’ QuickBooks Tutorial, a CME program, a Fundraising Dinner Dance for the Pediatric Neurosurgical and Craniofacial Operating Unit and Induction for the officers of the Chicago/NW Indiana/Milwaukee UPMASA chapter. On March 10, 2020, 38 days prior to the meeting, we decided to call off the event based on the mounting risk of infection to our attendees. The hotel officially told us that they were holding us to our contractual financial obligation, worth more than $18,000.00.

Letters flew from UPMASA desks. After one week of brisk negotiations, the hotel gave in and finally waived our financial obligations.

The other upcoming event is the UPMASA Annual Grand Convention. Its reality does not ever leave our consciousness. As of this time I am aware that there are no concrete plans to cancel this beloved occasion, scheduled 3 months and a few days away. If the AGC leadership led by Dr. Francis Sy and Dr. Jose M. Ventura with the UPMASA officers change or modify plans, I assure you that all of us are committed to informing all of you as well as our non-UPMASA supporters, on the soonest possible time.

At this time, I report to you that the pandemic has started a rush of charitable giving amongst our members and friends. Cognizant of the extreme shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and the need for augmented testing the National UPMASA, UPCM Class UPMASAns, and our friends have donated money. The cost of testing for the virus is also an expense the PGH has to bear. The other services that needed financial help were the transportation and lodging needs of the healthcare workers and PGH employees who depended on public transportation and lived a considerable distance from the hospital. To this end, the UPCM class 1993, and many UPMASAns generously gave their class funds and UPMASA gave from the Disaster Relief Funds. They were allocated to the above-mentioned needs.

The Internet Service Committee set up the website for easy web-based giving. Individual donors went into the website, upmasanational.org, went into the “Donation” button and chose the area “Disaster Relief”. Therein they saw “Covid” and through that button were able to send money to help the front liners. This was set up at about 1030 PM CST after an emergency meeting and overnight, about $2500.00 was generously garnered from the very new website button. That button remains ready for fresh and repeat donors.

Finally, let me enjoin you in thanking our bold and very inspiring colleagues at the Philippine General Hospital and the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. Let us also join the multitude of people praying for the healing of those affected by the virus. We also ask that the cure for this scourge may be found very soon. We also hope that together, through our efforts, that we may encourage charitable giving to the public institutions taking care of the sick. Good evening.

Sincerely,

Susan Echiverri, MD
UPMASA President
8:00 PM CST