Delhi: At mohalla clinic that caters to hundreds, only complaints are of Covid

The clinic, which is also administering Covid vaccines, has received 320 vaccine doses from the district office and their vaccination drive will restart on Saturday.

At the Peeragarhi Mohalla clinic on Friday morning, Dr Alka Chaudhary’s phone keeps buzzing with SOS calls and messages even as she prescribes medicines to the dozens who line up to get them for Covid patients at home.

She tells a patient’s family to keep calm and take precautions while they scramble across the city for a bed, but barely holds back her own tears as she adds that at this point, she won’t be able to arrange a bed for them, her own family members, or even herself. Her 55-year-old cousin recently succumbed to Covid.

Residents of the neighbourhood frequent the clinic for medicines, mostly relating to Covid symptoms. They ask through the window, procure a prescription from Dr Alka, and are handed the medicines by the pharmacist, Manisha. The doctor makes sure to tell them to avoid stepping out for small issues such as minor cuts or a headache.

Two other clinics that The Indian Express visited in Madipur village in West Delhi were shut before 1 pm on Friday. The sources said several mohalla clinics — showcasing the AAP government’s healthcare model — have been shut ever since the lockdown was announced and since several healthcare workers have tested positive.

At the Peeragarhi clinic, Manisha meticulously made notes of those who have come to buy medicines and what is prescribed. Two pages of her register fill up within 1.5 hours on Friday. She says these days, people mostly ask for medicines relating to dry cough, cold, fever, aches and diarrhoea. Many children have symptoms like diarrhoea these days, she says.

Every day, the clinic receives a list from district officials of those who have tested positive for Covid. Healthcare workers reach out to those who come under Peeragarhi, which has a population of around 9,000, and then make rounds of the area to distribute oximeters and medicines such as azithromycin, zinc and calcium tablets, rantac and paracetamol.

Workers say they have around 70 oximeters, of which 60 are currently in use. When a family recovers, they are collected so they can be given to another in need.

The clinic does not receive RT-PCR test kits but has a few rapid antigen test kits.

A few days earlier, Anita, a patient in her 50s with a breathing problem, visited to get an RT-PCR test since her rapid antigen report was negative but her oxygen levels were around 80.

Dr Alka directed the family to a few hospitals, but could not get admitted anywhere. Eventually, she passed away. Says Dr Alka: “The government keeps announcing that there are hospitals, beds, oxygen… that the situation is under control. But it is we who are answerable to the masses. We have to show them the real picture.”

The clinic, which is also administering Covid vaccines, has received 320 vaccine doses from the district office and their vaccination drive will restart on Saturday.

The usual clinic timings are 7 am to 1 pm, but once the vaccination drive starts, it will be from 9 am to 5 pm. However, the six staff members said that they are not compensated for the extra hours, nor are they given any incentives.

An oxygen cylinder has been at the clinic for years. Dr Alka said that it has been in use recently, for short periods of time, since they are trying to preserve oxygen in case of an emergency.

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