On his day off, Dr. Erfanul Saker delivered a meal from a Taiwanese restaurant to his colleagues at Elmhurst Hospital Center who have been working tirelessly treating coronavirus patients.
“We had an abundance of food and I did not want it to go to waste, so I came to the hospital and helped distribute the food elsewhere,” said Saker, who is a third-year internal medicine resident at the hospital.
Saker has been able to buy meals for himself and the health care professionals through generous donations from friends, family and the community.
While Saker’s donation funds were dwindling, his friends — Anthony Davis, Raul Abreu, Chris Edwards, Ricardo Ospino and Dane Wright — created a GoFundMe food account on April 4 on behalf of Saker to provide hospital staff with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I’m the luckiest person ever given the amount of support from my friends and family. My friends have been through it with me all from undergraduate to medical school to residency. Through all of my darkest moments they have been there to pick me up, especially during a time like this where they just went out and said, ‘Hey we got you.’”
To date, they have received $9,300, nearly all of their $10,000 goal.
“I feel really good that a lot of people responded to it putting in donations,” Davis said. “I just wanted to give them one less thing to worry about, since they have so much on their shoulders already. They shouldn’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from, or worry about having to pay for a meal.”
According to Saker, the food was being delivered to the residents at the hospital, but now it’s shared with nurses in the pediatric unit and staff in the intensive care unit.
“We’re trying to make sure everyone is fed and taken care of,” Saker said.
Local restaurants have also been reaching out to make deliveries to the hospital.
“Fresh Direct has sent us a food package and some of our favorite spots that we ordered from before the COVID-19 pandemic have called us as well to deliver food,” Saker said. “Everyone is very grateful.”
Like Saker, many of the nurses, doctors and residents would return to the hospital on their day off to help their fellow colleagues.
“I always tell my friends that this feels like war. I’ve never actually been in a war and during a time war, people get drafted and enlisted … sometimes you don’t have a choice,” Saker said. “This is our career — we choose to be doctors, physicians, nurses, and this is really our calling. The world is scared and am scared for myself and my colleagues, but every single day I wake up and can’t wait to go to work because I know that’s where I can be the most beneficial.”