From behind a plastic seperator at the Rotary Covid Care Centre in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, Raziya blows kisses to her seven-year-old daughter Pakiza Salim while speaking to her on a mobile phone. After testing Covid positive, the child was brought to this facility set up by five Rotary clubs —
Ahmednagar, Ahmednagar Midtown, Ahmednagar Priyadarshini, Ahmednagar Central and Ahmednagar Integrity — of RID 3132. Pakiza happily shows off her toys and games to her sobbing mother. The clubs have thoughtfully included recreational items for children to play with. Pakiza recovered since then and was discharged.
The centre has already treated over 1,000 asymptomatic Covid patients, including 90 children, in a month. Kshitij Zaware, president, RC Ahmednagar Midtown says, “it cost us ₹10 lakh to set up the facility in line with the WHO and government norms.” The local hospitals refer patients to this centre and no fee is charged for the poor. To boost the morale of patients “we make them take an oath every morning: I am fighting corona, I will win and make my health better,” he adds.
Dr Rajukar, club member and centre-in-charge says, “asymptomatic patients need not be hospitalised. Centres like these save precious hospital beds for serious cases.” Two oxygen cylinders are kept ready and in case of an emergency, “we will shift the patient to a hospital with the help of a standby ambulance.” Two doctors and four nurses work in shifts here.
This 150-bed centre, set up with help from the Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation at the Government Polytechnic College boys hostel, has a range of facilities including staff quarters, pulse oximeters, CCTVs, a laundry unit and a biomedical waste management block. All the doctors and medical staff are provided PPE kits.
For 76-year-old Kharbas, who was recently discharged, the most interesting thing here was his bedside hot water kettle. “Bahut badhiya hai! Bus ek button dabaney se pani garam ho jata hai (It’s excellent; press a button and the water is heated),” he quips, adding that the club members are doing “bhagwan ka kaam (God’s work). At a time when our family members can’t be with us, the Rotarians are making sure we get hot food and comfortable sleep. I thank them with all my heart.”
Fresh, hot nutrition-rich food is served to the patients from a kitchen, set up at a cost of ₹15 lakh at the centre. They are also given ayurvedic medicines. All the clubs pitch in with funds and grocery to keep the kitchen running, says Zaware. Recently the centre celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi and Independence Day with the patients.