Photo of nurses holding PPE supplies.

Answering a Need

In 1994, Ziping “Ping” Cen had an experience that altered the direction of her life. While living in St. Louis, Missouri, where her husband was pursuing his doctoral degree, Ping found herself in the midst of a medical crisis, unprepared. An elderly woman she was helping suddenly lost her speech. Scared and unsure what to do, Ping enlisted the help of a neighbor who called 911 and summoned the help necessary. The woman had experienced a major stroke but fortunately recovered.

Inspired by the incident and the desire to be better able to help more people, Ping earned her nursing degree and became a practicing nurse in 1998. She has worked as a nurse on Sequoia Hospital’s Cardiac Surveillance Unit for 14 years, having transferred from Dignity Health’s Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento.

In January of this year, Ping was horrified as COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan, China. She saw doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel in full protective gear caring for their patients. In March when the virus spread to the United States there were reports of critical shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hospitals around the country. She knew then that Sequoia would face the same shortages.

“Without enough PPEs, how can our doctors, nurses, and other medical staff be fully protected? If they get sick who will take care of others?” she thought. Understanding that China produces 50-80% of the world’s masks, Ping called upon connections in her church and the local Chinese community to help address the PPE shortage in our hospital.

“Fortunately,” she continues “the local Chinese community, including our church, had already been mobilized and had already contacted the people in China to purchase the masks and other PPEs to ship to this country. They want to donate these much needed PPEs to the hospitals.”

Thanks to an incident 26 years ago, Ping notes “I’m just in the right time and place to get these valuable masks available to our hospital.”