Taipei Medical University’s Response to COVID-19

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Taiwan’s COVID-19 response and low case numbers are recognised around the world. In addition to creating a safe environment for quality education, Taipei Medical University (TMU) has played a pivotal role that’s been realised through the university’s leading alumni, developments in medical technology, healthcare professionals, and international service providers.

With the abundant support, fortunately, TMU helped 98% of enrolled international students successfully travel to Taiwan and join the TMU community under such a vicious pandemic in 2020. Many of the new international students listed Taiwan’s image of safety as a major pull for them to continue their overseas study at a time when friends were cancelling plans to study at places like Japan, Korea, and the US.

TMU manifested its capacity in maintaining a relatively normal campus life. On campus, TMU was busy ensuring students had access to the expected high standard of education, while at the same time prioritizing safety through epidemic prevention. Faculty were quick to embrace distance learning through online courses and videos, and came up with flexible approaches to off-campus internships and service requirements.

After settling to the relative safety of campus life, students might be proud to learn that leading TMU alumni have played no small part in Taiwan’s pandemic response. From the commander of Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) taking immediate actions and activating Taiwan’s epidemic prevention mechanism to front-line healthcare workers curing the confirmed cases, hundreds of thousands of TMU alumni have unwearyingly fought together in this unprecedented epidemic prevention battle.

Likewise, TMU has helped Taiwan lead the way with breakthroughs in medical technology. TMU Hospital, in alliance with forefront tech companies, announced the “Contact-Free Connected Healthcare Platform” which was developed under the umbrella of the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s Service System Technology Center.

This groundbreaking system utilizes thermal imaging and infra-red cameras to automatically collect patients’ vital signs which were later analyzed by AI algorithms with testing and imaging results. Medical alerts can be issued automatically, and patients can track their information with an app. The platform’s integrated video allows doctors, nurses, and patients to communicate remotely, creating an essentially touchless system that minimizes physical contact and reduces the risk of infection.

TMU students have also been actively involved in the government’s pandemic response. Hundreds of interns from the School of Pharmacy helped shoulder the burden of surgical mask rationing. Working at pharmacies across capital Taipei, these students acted as a bridge between the community and the medical establishment, providing accurate and timely information that helped minimize the public’s panic.

Moreover, TMU’s contributions to public health were beyond territory. After receiving a call for assistance from the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) in April 2020, it took just two weeks for TMU Hospital to assemble the “Taiwan We Go” disease prevention and medical care team. After an intensive two-month consultation and training seminars with local health agencies, the country had increased its epidemic prevention capacity at the national level with more than 500 healthcare providers empowered to treat severe respiratory failure.

To better understand the effectiveness of the university’s response to the pandemic on campus, TMU Office of Global Engagement invited its international students to provide their feedback and suggestions on the COVID-19 mitigation initiatives introduced on campus.

According to the “TMU campus survey,” most international students in 2020 acknowledged the pandemic’s impact on their studies, graduation, finances, and freedom of movement. They experienced the growing stress in many different shapes and forms, and like the society in general, have accumulated increasing level of pandemic-related anxiety.

But students also saw TMU’s actions to help mitigate the pandemic’s negative impact on their studies and health, including the compliance of mask-wearing and social distancing requirements, online course delivery to maintain their learning progression, as well as the genuine care about students’ safety from faculty and staff members.

“I can engage with the online teaching, which doesn’t affect my further study,” mentioned a student in the TMU campus survey.

“I’m very impressed with the COVID-19 response of TMU in particular and Taiwan in general,” said another respondent.

“I would like to thank TMU, Taiwan as I am able to focus on my studies in this pandemic period. TMU is providing us with a great learning platform, thank you!”, another student mentioned in the survey.

Having settled into a new normal after a challenging year in 2020, 88% of TMU student respondents agreed that on the whole they felt safe and secured on campus. Together with TMU’s contributions to pandemic response at the campus, national, as well as international levels, the university is committed to making a positive impact on the life of the students, partners, and their families.