PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ever since the coronavirus pandemic intensified in our region back in mid-March, a restaurant owner in Aloha has been going the extra mile to ensure dozens of local medical workers get hot meals each week.
With the help of some volunteers, Phoa Hoai‘s Phu Nguyen has donated hundreds of meals to hospitals like Providence St. Vincent and OHSU for months. The meals include various Vietnamese dishes like Pho and salad rolls. Nguyen uses his own money for the donations and plans to keep doing so until June. Right now he makes about 50 meals per hospital and delivers the food every Sunday.
“As a part of the Vietnamese refugee community, I am really grateful to have the opportunity to serve the hot meals for the doctors, nurse and health care workers who work so hard during this pandemic,” said Nguyen. “Ever since COVID-19 happened, we decided to have the hot meals for the hospital at ICU and emergency rooms.”
Some of the staff at Providence St. Vincent have begun calling Nguyen “Uncle Phu” because of his calming, warm demeanor.
“We are thankful that he and his staff are taking the time to help us,” said registered nurse Xochitl Alshaarawi. “A nice warm meal makes a difference. There is not a lot of people that can go into the hospital so I have the ability and resources to deliver the food to the departments. It can change our day.”
Nguyen and his volunteers have been following safety protocols when they prepare the food by wearing masks and gloves. And since hospitals are employing tight restrictions on visitors, medical staff have been helping coordinate deliveries.
“When we have to work a little bit longer, knowing that there’s nice, fresh, warm food in the break room can make a big difference for all of us,” said Alshaarawi.