Jane Wan, with SFO’s Planning, Design & Construction department, is deployed as a Disaster Service Worker (DSW) for the City of San Francisco. She kept a brief diary of her experiences working for the City’s COVID-19 response.
Jane Wan,DSW Diary – Week 1
It was 11pm on Saturday, April 18th, when I finished my first week of Disaster Service assignment in San Francisco. I’ve met so many people everyday.
Day 1: I was deployed to Site 4, which shelters 100 homeless patients. 60 of them were Covid positive, 5 were negative, and the rest were considered Persons Under Investigation (PUI). My assigned partner was a man from Massachusetts who normally works at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate park. Since it was our very first day, we tried not to panic. Throughout our shift we worked with onsite social workers, therapists, and nurses to serve the needs of patients. Sheriffs came and checked every couple of hours. Several patients have mental and behavioral problems, so occasionally it was difficult to execute our tasks. At the end of day we were overwhelmed and exhausted.
Day 2: I was deployed to Site 4 again but this time my assigned partner was someone I already knew from work. It’s been a while since I’ve met a coworker (or anyone) face to face. I was excited because I always wanted to know her more and we had the whole day together. I told her that this is a Covid site and she didn’t seem to worry. She reminded me that God did not give us a spirit of fear. Where fear exists, courage exists. We talked about books, life, and God’s will. I’ve never had such a deep conversation with a coworker before. At the end of day we were both tired but grateful. The day was a blink of an eye.
Day 3: Today I was deployed to Site 7 in a very run-down area of the City. Only around 50 patients were stationed here, everyone was test-negative and they all belonged to the vulnerable category. My assigned partner was a man who is usually a trainer for the food stamp program. Sometimes I couldn’t hear him because of the mask + face shield covering his mouth. He was so friendly and easy going. It was his last day at this site so we “elbowed”, and I wished him to be safe and well, onward to the next assignment.
Day 4: Back to site 7 again and today we received ten new patients. One of the new patients, Mr. D, asked me a bunch of questions that I didn’t have answers to. I felt sorry to tell him that he has to stay here as long as the shelter in place (SIP) is effective, and no one has the answer of how long this situation will last. I finished his paperwork and went over the house rules with him. He had a very sophisticated signature and it made me wonder how he ended up homeless. I said goodbye and I believed he was smiling to me even though it was hard to tell with the mask. I was sure because his eyes were smiling.
Day 5: It was quiet and nice on the weekend so I had more time to talk to the team. V is around 50 years old and she told us it was her birthday today. We asked her why she came in, and she said she didn’t mind, that she wanted to do something useful. G is about 10 years older than I am and he has a 6 year old son. He has been having a tough time getting his son to wear a mask. T is our site manager and she works here 7 days a week and 12 hours everyday. She said she will be working here until the SIP is lifted. Mr. UA has only one-arm, but he helped pack patients’ dinners anyways. After hearing everyone’s stories I was like, dang, I have nothing to complain about. People who have stepped up during this crisis are so inspirational to me.
This is a historical moment. I am so glad to be part of the community and to be able to help in some way. In the beginning, I must admit that I thought of quitting, however my faith in God, and the inspiration of others, helped me to persevere. I thought of all of the people who need help, and told myself not to be of small faith.
At times like this, great stories happen when we choose to give up a little of ourselves.