The team of doctors, staff and the heart and soul behind the effort, Harjit Singh Sabharwal, a social worker and executive member of the Society, can look back and say that it was a job well done, a collective effort in these trying and testing times.
Amid a raging second wave of Covid-19 cases, on May 1, an NGO that runs three hospitals in the region, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sewa Society began work to set up the Mini Covid Care Centre at Bal Bhawan in Sector 23 of Chandigarh. Two days later, the 50-bed centre was operational, with a piped oxygen facility set up in less than 48 hours, and the following day, it was fully occupied by Covid-19 patients. On Tuesday, the Centre had 12 patients, with more than 250 treated and sent home, and no mortality reported.
The team of doctors, staff and the heart and soul behind the effort, Harjit Singh Sabharwal, a social worker and executive member of the Society, can look back and say that it was a job well done, a collective effort in these trying and testing times. The volunteers of the Society set up eight dormitories, equipped with oxygen, coolers, exhaust fans, television sets and of course, medical equipment and medicines required for mild and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, besides engaging a team of doctors, nurses, technicians and cleaners. Speaking about the month-and-a-half of service extended to Covid-19 patients, Sabharwal says that when everything fails, the common citizens come forward to provide succor, be it finances, food or medicines.
Dr Karandeep Singh Syal, a cardiologist, who was managing many aspects of the Centre, shares that people would walk in, asking what was needed at the centre. He says that a woman also took over the responsibility of getting home-made soups and salads for patients and the staff, while the Sector 8 Gurdwara sent fresh lunch and dinner, and other people pitched in with breakfast, water and even their time. “People from all walks of life have been part of this initiative, and it’s heartening. Many patients were so comfortable and happy here that they wanted to stay longer as they had each other for company, and the facilities ensured that they got a good diet, rest, with no fear of them infecting their family at home,” says Dr Syal.
A small help desk, manned by Dr Harpreet Kaur, a gynecologist, ensured that relatives of patients were informed about their progress, test reports, CT scans, injections, and doctor visits and consultations etc were also taken care of smoothly, as she shared hand-written thank-you notes of patients who expressed their gratitude for the care and concern of the doctors and nurses. Dr Kaur says that a happy and positive environment and the selfless acts of common people helped the patients tide over this tough time. With the number of new admissions getting lesser, the Centre will be temporarily closed by the end of this month, and be maintained, if need be, for later use.
In the third week of April, as Covid-19 cases rapidly rose, the hospitals ran out of beds for patients, after which the UT Administration gave a clarion call to the city’s residents to voluntarily set up Mini Covid Care Centres here. The centres were designated for mild and asymptomatic Covid-19 positive patients, to provide them with isolation facility, food, water, medicines, oxygen, doctors’ consultation, treatment, sanitisers, oxygen concentrators, masks, sanitizers, and every other facility for free of cost. While the building structures and doctors of government hospitals were provided by the administration, the responsibility to shift the patients to a hospital if required and all other arrangements were to be taken care of by the Covid Care Centres, with seven centres eventually being operational in different part of the city, providing more than 300 beds. “The partnership of Good Samaritans and the administration was the need of the hour. The centres arranged for everything, and have not charged anything for their services and are connected with the patients who have been discharged. They are serving the society and I do not have words to express my gratitude,” says Yashpal Garg, Nodal Officer Mini Covid Care Centre, Chandigarh.
The other centres include one at the Sports Complex, Sector 34, Chandigarh, run by Jaspal Singh Kandhari; one at Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Sector 8, run by Sri Sathya Sai Gramin Jagriti, Sai Sadan; a centre at Sports Complex in Sector 43, managed by United Sikhs and another at the Community Centre in Sector 47, run by the Rotary Satellite Club of Chandigarh.
Not too far away, at the Indira Holiday Home in Sector 24, a 47-bed centre was set by an NGO, Competent Foundation. Sanjay Tandon, who is the Founder and President of the NGO, says: “Hands that help are holier than lips that pray and all those who came forward helped in fighting this situation as a society. There was no dearth of support, as people came forward to contribute in whatever way they could and that’s why we could provide the best facilities and staff to the patients, with no room for any compromise, be it food, medicines, treatment, and also state-of-the-art digital facilities, which ensured that vital information about the patients was collected thrice a day, sent to their family, CCTV cameras installed in halls for constant monitoring and complete coordination between staff members here.” Tandon is also the State President of BJP’s Chandigarh unit.
At least for the first 15 days of May, all 47 beds at the centre were occupied, says Tandon, adding that this service was not about the number of patients, profit, or commerce, but about extending a helping hand in this time of need. “We have to thank the people of the city who came forward with all their heart,” says Tandon.
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