Covid-19 – Romanian Orthodox Church Initiates Dozens of Support Measures for Hospitals and People (March 16-31)

Basilica News Agency – 7/4/2020

During the state of emergency, the Romanian Orthodox Church has intensified its presence both online and in society respecting all the required sanitary precautions.

Even before the state of emergency being declared in Romania, just as the authorities raised the level of alert regarding the coronavirus epidemic, the Church had started preparations to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Throughout Romania, parishes, monasteries, dioceses and archdioceses help as much as they can. The coordination is local, at diocesan level.

They offer spiritual guidance and counseling, but also warm food for medical staff and frontier workers, for the elderly, the vulnerable and for those in self-isolation or in quarantine due to Coronavirus infection or the suspicion of it.

Some dioceses have donated medical devices to hospitals and have initiated fundraisers to be able to provide even more such devices, thus becoming a real social catalyst to support efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

This reflects the solidarity of the Church with the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable. It also shows that the Church values those who work in hospitals and other medical institutions, as reads a press release issued by the Press Office of the Romanian Patriarchate.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases “Matei Balș” presented public thanks to the Romanian Patriarchate “for the material and spiritual support”: “In this difficult period, such evidence of compassion and caring for our peers is vital and very helpful, both for the medical staff and especially the patients as direct beneficiaries”.

The financial and material support of the Church has already surpassed 820,000 Euros to which other substantial measures of support were added.

Patriarch Daniel, other bishops and many priests donated money from their salaries to provide with devices and protection equipment to hospitals, volunteers and social workers. One of the archdioceses has worked with local authorities to redirect 300,000 EUR-worth of public money from church repairs to two local public hospitals.

The Romanian Patriarchate and the “Filantropia” Federation created the platform ajutacubucurie.ro (“help with joy”), which connects national efforts in the COVID-19 crisis. On this website and at the toll-free helpline 0800-800.368 people can ask for help and can also offer help to vulnerable or isolated people across the country.

Find below a synthesis of the measures and help actions made by the dioceses of the Romanian Orthodox Church between the 16th and the 31st of March, 2020.

The Archdiocese of Bucharest

  • Distributed 595 warm food portions to those isolated at home (seniors, persons with disabilities, single mothers with children).
  • Offered 2,000 water bottles (around 1,000 euros) for the COVID-19 treatment centers at “Matei Balș” and “Victor Babeș” Institutes in Bucharest.
  • Brought over a ton of fruit, more than 1,400 sandwiches, 1,000 pastries and over 500 t-shirts to the “Matei Balș” Institute Hospital.
  • Ensured 5,000 prayer books (1,300 euros) for the medical staff and patients at many hospitals in Bucharest;
  • Established, in cooperation with the Emergency Inspectorate for Bucharest city and Ilfov county, the unique phone number 0799.785.491, where people in situations of grave emergency can ask for food; 900 portions of warm food, worth 3,000 euros, have already been distributed to the elderly, the disabled and to single mothers.
  • The volunteers at the Chapel of the National Cathedral help the homeless from social centers in the Capital city as well as other vulnerable persons in Bucharest and the neighboring Ilfov county.
  • Two Deaneries, “Ploiești North” and “Ploiești South”, offered 2,000 masks, 40 liters of liquid soap and 1,000 books with prayers for times of affliction to hospitals from the neighboring city of Ploiești

The Archdiocese of Iași

  • Created the toll-free non-stop helpline 0800.672.027, which offers psychological counseling and receives requests for concrete help, and the online platform fiideajutor.ro (“be helpful”.ro), where people can ask for support while others can offer their help to the vulnerable;
  • Organized a blood donation.
  • The Botoșani Deanery donated to the local Public Health Authority and the local Inspectorate for Emergency Situations hygiene products, food and money for protective equipment and testing devices. The total worth of the donation is of 21,000 Euros.
  • The monasteries make bed linen cotton sheets and cloth sacks for the supplementary beds created in preparation for the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • In Iași city, Hospital Providența of the Metropolis of Moldavia and Bukovina offers medical advice online and over the phone.
  • Neamț Monastery offers quarantine beds, food, and medical assistance. The second series of quarantined persons are currently using its facilities.

The Archdiocese of Sibiu

  • Worked with local authorities to redirect 300,000 Euros-worth of public funds initially designated for church repairs to two hospitals in Brașov and Sibiu that need to prepare better for the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Put its licensed ambulance service and dental medicine cabinet at the disposal of public authorities during the health crisis.
  • Offers daily a warm meal for 140 vulnerable persons; companies have joined, sending food and hygiene products for the elderly, the socially vulnerable and those self-isolated due to infection suspicion.
  • Some parishes and local organizations have started raising funds for local hospitals.

The Archdiocese of Vad, Feleac, and Cluj

  • Donated to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Cluj a 1,400 Euro-worth medical device and over 36,000 Euros for urgent acquisitions of medical protection gear.
  • Offered 340 quarantine places to the authorities.
  • Offers 450 food portions daily and home assistance for the elderly, the sick and those in self isolation (the phone numbers of the social canteens were made public: 0733070590; 0723690203; 0749404795; tel: 0364800568; 0748191670).
  • The Orthodox Deanery of Năsăud donated 3,000 euros for the “George Trifon” local hospital.
  • The “Holy Trinity” Parish in Cluj ensures warm food for 60 elderly and ill persons daily.

The Archdiocese of Craiova

  • Donated medical equipment for COVID-19 treatment to the “Victor Babeș” Hospital in the city of Craiova.
  • Initiated a collection of food and hygiene products for the elderly and the isolated.

The Archdiocese of Timișoara

  • Acquired four medical monitors (30,000 Euros) for the Infectious Diseases Hospital “Victor Babeș” in Timișoara.
  • Donated two oxygen concentrators to the Railway Company Hospital in Timișoara.
  • Monasteries help with warm food for the vulnerable and the isolated.
  • Offered a ton of food products to big institutions such as the Psychiatric Hospital in Jebel or the municipality’s social canteen.
  • In cooperation with the local Public Health Direction, it offered warm food, non-perishable food, and hygiene products for 45 self-isolated families in Timiș county.
  • The Filantropia Foundation in Timișoara offers warm food, which is prepared at the kitchen of “St Anthimos the Iberian” High School. A priest gave his house for a family who needed to self-isolate for two weeks.
  • Distributed 300 liters of disinfectants and detergents to medical institutions, churches, and families.
  • Distributed 5,000 prayer books and spiritual guidance books to be used during isolation.

The Archdiocese of Chișinău

  • The Social Mission “Diaconia” of the Metropolis of Bessarabia initiated, in cooperation with Kaufland Moldova, The Moldova Project and public authorities, a social responsibility campaign named “I help. I care”. Kaufland offers shopping cards of 100,000 Moldovan Lei for products of primary necessity. They will be used by volunteers to help the vulnerable inhabitants of Chișinău, the Capital of the Republic of Moldova, a neighboring province with mainly Romanian-speaking population. Companies can donate food and hygiene products by calling 061 058 777, while volunteers can register at office@diaconia.md. Donations can also be made online.

The Archdiocese of Târgoviște

The support offered totaled almost 17,000 Euros, as following:

  • 100 warm food portions daily for those in difficulty;
  • 5,000-Euro products and food to be given to the elderly and vulnerable for Easter;
  • a monitoring device for vital functions which cost 4,200 Euros;
  • 100 packages with personal hygiene products for the local Social Assistance Direction – more to come according to needs.
  • hygiene and textile products for 50 people isolated in a municipal social center from the city of Târgoviște;
  • food and personal hygiene products for the beneficiaries of its own social centers.
  • Viforâta Monastery is making protection masks to supply the local Emergency Hospital in the city of Târgoviște.

The Archdiocese of Tomis

The Archdiocese of Suceava and Rădăuți

  • Donated to the county hospital two devices and 2,000 testing kits which identify the new coronavirus. The donation is worth 100,000 Euros and the archdiocese plans to raise 100,000 Euros more for other medical supplies.
  • Created a support group for the medical staff at the county hospital, one of the worst-hit in the country by the pandemic. The archdiocese, in cooperation with some companies, ensures accommodation, meals, transport, and medical protection gear. In addition, it offers spiritual and psychological assistance to medical staff from Suceava and the neighboring area.

The Archdiocese of Alba Iulia

  • In cooperation with public authorities, the Archdiocese’s association “The Orthodox Philantropy – Alba Iulia” extended its social intervention to cover two counties instead of one: now it reaches 500 elderly and vulnerable persons, whom it assists with warm food at home, shopping, paying utility bills and distance counseling.
  • Assistance for those in quarantine, in isolation and other vulnerable categories, can be requested to the local priests (at the phone numbers published on reintregirea.ro and filantropiaortodoxa.ro; other useful numbers here).
  • Church organizations from the archdiocese offer food daily for the beneficiaries of their social institutions: 625 children and 881 elderly.
  • Archbishop Irineu took the initiative to offer the Peregrinus Church Hostel for medical workers from the neighboring county hospital, as a precaution to protect their families.
  • The Alba Iulia Deanery offers daily 70 warm food portions for the elderly and homeless.
  • The Sighișoara Deanery offers daily 40 warm food portions for those who are isolated.
  • The Reghin Deanery offered 87 food packages worth 1,400 Euros to those isolated in the town of Breaza.

The Archdiocese of Râmnic

The Archdiocese of Roman and Bacău

  • Archbishop Ioachim donated his March 2020 salary to raise funds for medical equipment necessary to hospitals in Bacău county.
  • The Archdiocese has established a unique phone number for socio-medical emergencies: 0749666581, while at the email voluntariarb@gmail.com it receives help and volunteer work offers. These will help the elderly, single mothers, pregnant women, large families, people in quarantine, persons with various medical conditions.
  • The archdiocese’s tailor shop produces protection masks for volunteers and doctors.
  • The archdiocese’s “Ruler Prince St Stephen the Great – Hârja” association put at the disposal of the authorities its ambulance and three vehicles from its medical division to be used for emergencies in the county.
  • The Bacău Deanery started a fundraising campaign among clerics to buy medical devices for hospitals and it offered the only device for vehicle disinfection in the county to sanitize public ambulances and police cars.

The Archdiocese of Argeș and Muscel

  • Donated medical equipment and products of approximately 10,000 Euros for the County Emergency Hospital in Pitești and is raising funds for other medical institutions from Argeș county.
  • Offers locations for quarantine.
  • Ensures food for the homeless from a social center in Pitești.
  • Offers, upon request, free food at home for the vulnerable and self-isolated.
  • Priests and volunteers do the shopping and other errands for the isolated.
  • The Archdiocese urged the parishes to make “food banks” for those who will self-isolate or be put into quarantine.

The Archdiocese of Lower Danube

It offered protection and hygiene products for hospitals and food with a total worth of more than 55,000 Euros, as following:

  • 10,000 protection masks (5,000 more to come);
  • 2,500 hygiene kits (surgical gloves, chlorine, alcohol, detergents);
  • Food packages and warm food daily for hundreds of vulnerable persons and for the staff at the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations – Galați.
  • In cooperation with the Metropolis of Central and Northern Europe, it raises funds for a device used to quickly diagnose infections with the new coronavirus in children; it will be donated to the “St John” Emergency Children Hospital in Galaţi.
  • The Tecuci Deanery offered prayer books, bedlinen sets, clothes and hygiene products for the people isolated at a quarantine center set up by the municipality of Tecuci.

The Archdiocese of Arad

  • Contributed with 14,500 Euros to the acquisition of 8 systems of respiratory ventilation and monitoring for the county Emergency Hospital; it continues to support fundraising for the rest.
  • Donated protection masks and gloves worth of 13,000 Euros to the Clinical Emergency Hospital in the city of Arad.
  • It offers warm food for 120 vulnerable persons.
  • Offered financial support for the Clinical Emergency Hospital in Arad to buy sanitary protection materials.
  • The Monasteries Gai and Tămand offer daily warm food for medical staff and frontier workers at Nădlac II border crossing point.
  • The vulnerable people from Arad city are helped by the Archdiocese, in partnership with the local company Piroș Security Force, to get food supplies, reach a doctor or solve other urgent needs.
  • Priests and volunteers from parishes keep in contact with the self-isolated in order to supply them with what they need.

The Diocese of Huși

  • Put at the disposal of the authorities an ambulance and donated 20,000 Euros to the county Emergency Hospital in Vaslui for the acquisition of a device that detects the SARS-Cov-2 virus.
  • Donated 5,000 Euros to the city Hospital “Elena Beldiman” in Bârlad, for protective equipment.
  • Through its charity, Huși Philanthropy, it distributed 1.5 tons of non-perishable food to the vulnerable and the isolated.
  • Established local support committees for the vulnerable and the isolated, offering the phone numbers 0746.894.280, 0767.470.048, 0769.223.070 (for Huși city); 0740.657.576 (for Vaslui city), 0769.223.073 (for Bârlad city).

The Diocese of Caransebeș

  • Offers 500 food portions daily for the vulnerable persons in Caransebeș, Reșița, Oravița, Moldova Nouă, Bocșa, and Băile Herculane cities. There are two phone numbers available for these services: 0766283351 and 0766549129.
  • In Reșița a, the program Hands of Joy was developed by the local Association of Romanian Orthodox Youth (ATOR – Banatul de Munte) in cooperation with the local social assistance and public order institutions. The young volunteers assist the vulnerable at home with shopping, medicine, warm food.
  • In cooperation with local authorities, it offered accommodation for the homeless.
  • It makes and donates masks for the Emergency Hospital in Caransebeș.

The Diocese of Oradea

  • Offers food and warm meals and does the shopping for 120 permanent beneficiaries assisted in the centers of the church organizations.
  • Offers food and support for the vulnerable and isolated, in cooperation with local authorities (who wants to donate food can call 0744.647.825; and for food requests, the phone is: 0800.410.430).

The Diocese of Maramureș and Sătmar

Has invested approximately 70,500 Euros in COVID-19-related charity, as follows:

  • The clerics donated from their salaries to buy two multi-purpose medical ventilation devices for the County Hospital in Baia Mare city (with a total worth of 32,000 Euros).
  • The Diocese donated to the County Hospital “Constantin Opriș” in Baia Mare 5,400 disposable protective masks and 1,055 disposable gowns with a total value of almost 5,000 Euros.
  • The clerics and the faithful from the diocese’s parishes donated 27.400 Euros for other local hospitals.

The Diocese of Severin and Strehaia

  • Created action groups in the parishes and transformed its charity program “The Easter Basket” in a program through which parishes bring food and sanitary products to the vulnerable and isolated.
  • It will donate 2,000 Euros to the county hospital most affected by the influx of patients.

The Diocese of Slobozia and Călărași

  • Offered material support to 95 families from the public social service support system.

The Diocese of Giurgiu

  • It offers quarantine locations and locations for food preparation for the vulnerable and isolated.
  • St John the Russian Monastery near the southern-Romania city of Giurgiu produces medical gowns and protection masks for the county Public Sanitary Authority.

The Diocese of Tulcea

  • Donated 4,000 euros for sanitary materials to the County Emergency Hospital in the city of Tulcea.
  • In cooperation with the local authorities, it started collecting foods through the parishes and distributing it to the vulnerable: 750 kilos of non-perishable foods, 150 kilos of vegetables and 250 pairs of surgical gloves were collected and distributed in March 2020.

The Diocese of Sălaj

  • Initiated a fundraiser among clerics for hospitals in Sălaj county.
  • Established “St Zoticus” initiative group, through which priests and volunteers ensure spiritual assistance, psychological counseling and shopping support for the elderly, the isolated and the vulnerable.

This synthesis was made based on the reports received from the dioceses.

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