When Sanand, an automobile hub of Gujarat, located on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, saw a spurt in Covid-19 infections in the second week of May, and a strict five-day lockdown was announced from May 13, the Gujarat government sought the help of the Sanand Janta Multispecialty Hospital, owned by Dr Tapan Shah, from Rotary E Club of Galaxy 3051, RID 3051. The Collector of Ahmedabad had conveyed the need for setting up a designated Covid-19 hospital in Sanand.
“We called an emergency online meeting of our club, discussed the increasing incidence of corona positive cases in our area, the ignorance of the less-educated residents of the town facing a global pandemic, and a strong need for an affordable private set-up for Covid-19 treatment,” he says.
In a record time of 24 hours and taking up the work on a war-footing, with help from some of his club members, the space in his Sanand Janata Hospital, which has 35 beds, was renovated within 24 hours. To tackle this emergency isolation space was provided for patients, along with necessary medicines, oxygen supply, food and also ICU treatment for the seriously afflicted.
“We had to do this, and did it willingly after a few private hospitals had shown reluctance to take in Covid patients, and the refusal of doctors and other medical staff to take the risk of being infected by treating corona cases,” says Shah.
The recovery rates can match the best of private hospitals across the country, with a low mortality rate, and this has boosted our confidence and morale.
What is more, he adds, keeping in mind that the residents of Sanand are mostly low-wage earners, “we have partnered with the government and in the last few weeks all the facilities for Covid patients are provided completely free of cost by the hospital as these people simply cannot afford treatment in a private hospital. Nor do they have proper insurance and are less inclined to visit government hospitals of a neighboring city.”
Shah said there were challenges as there was delay in receiving the “limited budget and grant” promised by the government. “But the hospital management was not deterred and we survived with the funds infused by our doctors and made sure that all of doctors continue to serve patients without any charges. As there was limited availability of PPE kits, N95 masks and other disposables, most of the staff, including a few doctors, were on 24×7 duty. The only wealth earned by our doctors and staff members during this difficult time is the blessings from our patients,” smiles Shah.
This is corroborated by a local resident, Akbar Momin, who says his uncle Ahmedbhai Momin had tested positive for Covid-19 and needed hospitalisation. “At first we thought of taking him to a private hospital and not the Sanand Janata Hospital as it had been designated a government Covid centre, because many people told us that a government centre might be dangerous and not have proper treatment facilities. But we went there and found the arrangements to be excellent.” He is all praise for the dedication of the staff, cleanliness and hygiene, facilitating the 14-day isolation of the entire family, the food served, etc. “The entire service was free of cost and even after he was discharged and we returned home, and my uncle had to undergo home isolation, they were in touch with us on the phone to inquire if all was well,” he added.
The only wealth earned by our doctors and staff members during this difficult time is the blessings from our patients.
– Dr Tapan Shah, Member, Rotary E Club of Galaxy 3051
Shah says that at the end of the day, he feels he and his staff have managed to “defeat corona, and that too in a place with limited resources, where the population lack awareness and knowledge about staying safe.” He claims that the recovery rates in his hospital can match the “best of private hospitals across the country, with a low mortality rate, and this has boosted our confidence and morale.”
Apart from Rotarians, “NGOs like Manav Sena Trust have always stood by us as also senior doctors of Sanand like Dr G K Chauhan and Dr Ajay Gandhi, who were available to help us whenever needed. Our club is constantly keeping in touch with me for any need we might have and have distributed fruits to every patient admitted.”