The hidden heroes and the untold story

In August 2021, a team of “hidden heroes” appeared and accompanied the Van Lang community through non-stop phone calls, helping hundreds of families to be assured and more resilient to get through the tough time fighting the pandemic.

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Upon the complicated situation of the Covid-19 epidemic, on July 22, 2021, Van Lang University officially established the "Van Lang Community Medical Consulting Team" with 11 key members including staff, and lecturers from the health-care related majors, performing consulting duties on Covid-19 prevention, vaccination, and all health problems during this period of social distancing.

Through the non-profit online consulting by phone and other social networking platforms such as Zalo, Facebook, etc., Van Lang Community Medical Consulting Team has classified 10 main groups based on the actual circumstances of people who were counseled. Such action is to provide appropriate knowledge, treatment, and prevention measures to the patients.


We contacted the Medical Consulting Team at 8 pm but it was not until 9 pm that the team members took a break to do the interview. One month since its establishment, the Van Lang Community Medical Consulting Team was busy with hundreds of calls regardless of day or night. 349 cases ranging from mild to severe, from newborn infections to 70-year-old elderly people, all were listened to and meticulously cared for. 

Together with Ph.D., Dr. Pham Van Son, MSc. Dr. Pham Thi Viet Phuong as core resources, on duty 24/7 for the consultation line and helping more than 180 large and small cases. According to Doctor Phuong, most of the cases are F0 who were being treated at home or in isolation, needing advice on how to deal with emergency situations. Most patients who called the Van Lang Medical Consulting Team were in a state of confusion and pressure. In an emergency, with the lack of equipment, the advisor needs to start by reassuring the patient, getting a grasp of the situation, and capturing information about items that are useful within the family territory to respond promptly and avoid creating panic and helplessness for patients.

Doctor Viet Phuong recalled that a family member of a lecturer working at Van Lang University, unfortunately, contracted Covid-19. The couple and their two young children were transferred to an isolation ward. But because of the overwhelming numbers of patients, the isolation ward could not provide personal care and oxygen ventilators for each person. So, the family's health and mental status were decreasing day by day. Through relatives and families, they connected with the Van Lang Medical Consulting Team and were instructed on methods of exercising for proper breathing, and simple self-protection measures. From the first days of exhaustion that it was almost impossible for them to talk much, the whole family gradually recovered. On the third day, they eventually regained consciousness and were able to eat normally.

In another case, the medical team successfully supported an extended family to overcome the epidemic. A family of 9 people living in Thu Duc district was all infected with Covid-19, including three young children: a 6-year-old child, a 3-year-old baby, and a newborn baby aged one month 20 days old. The first time the family called the team, they were extremely worried. However, after going through the process of consulting and self-treatment at home continuously for one week, 6 of 9 members got negative Covid test results, three positive tested members also no longer had symptoms. The updates of test results and the gradual improvement of the family members were not only the joy of the family but also the happiness of the doctors who have accompanied them.

“We received many calls in which the caller’s family members are having difficulty breathing and unable to wait for oxygen to be delivered. In times of emergency, I often instruct them with quick first aid methods with simple items. For families who can go out or ask someone to buy medicine, the medical team will advise on common and cost-saving prescriptions. A family just called and cried because their house was in quarantine and they were lack of supplies. I immediately reassured their spirit. Then, I provided simple measures with just warm water and salt, gave them detailed instructions on hygiene and living environment, diet, work-out, and breathing exercises to restore their stable state.” – Doctor Viet Phuong said.

Not only providing health advice, but the doctors were also ready to act as a channel connecting patients with volunteer units to receive timely support. As with a case of a patient in Ward 15 - Go Vap District who was having difficulty breathing, after counseling on first aid methods and prescribing medicine, the medical team helped the family members connect with a charity unit to support oxygen tanks, assisting them to overcome the dangerous stage.


Covid-19 is very dangerous because it spreads quickly through the respiratory tract. However, if we follow the 5K rules correctly and get vaccinated, we can completely avoid infection. The treatment of the disease is divided into several stages with different therapeutic methods, but the common key point to the journey to fight the epidemic is an optimistic spirit. MSc., Dr. Pham Van Son, Team Leader of the Consulting Team shared: “Every time we pick up the phone, we always greet people who are bursting with anxiety and helplessness warmly. Therefore, we can share the pressure with them, creating trust and calming them down. I consider spiritual therapy shared a great magnitude as drug therapy. In any situation, staying positive and believing in doctors and scientific treatment methods will bring good results.”

Busy with online consulting work all day, but Dr. Son and his teammates were always full of positive energy. Doctor Son shared his thought: “We are doctors. We were educated and trained in medical ethics. We thought, in the time that our compatriots are so miserable how can we sit still? Comparing to us, our colleagues on the front line are working many times harder. We only make small contributions, but they can somehow reduce the pain of the patient and the anxiety of the family. These contributions are also meaningful small things.”


Hoai Anh 
Painting: Pham Thi Phuong Minh

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