Salvation Army hospital in Ahmednagar leads battle against coronavirus

‘‘Treated patients’ blessings and gratitude is our biggest reward’’


May 12, 2020

/ By / Ahmednagar, Maharashtra

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Salvation Army hospital in Ahmednagar

Devdan Kalkumbe, the administrator of the Evangeline Booth Hospital, Ahmednagar (MIG Photos/Varsha Singh)

The Evangeline Booth hospital is well known all over Ahmednagar, a district in western Maharashtra. The 125-year-old institution is run by the Salvation Army, a global Christian charity. Due to its structure that had an entire wing that was enclosed and could be isolated, the hospital was designated as the Covid-19 treatment centre for the entire district. Devdan Kalkumbe, the administrator of the hospital talks to Media India Group about how the hospital and its personnel have geared up to respond to the crisis and the call of the duty.

What is the history of this hospital ?

The Evangeline Booth hospital is one of the institutions of the Salvation Army, which works in 131 countries and is well-known for its social work. The Booth hospital is one of the oldest buildings in Ahmednagar. In 1934, the Salvation Army purchased this building from the Marathi Mission and in 1939 the hospital was renamed Evangeline Booth Hospital. The locals also call it the Dagdi Dawakhana (Stone Hospital). It was a 255-bedded hospital and besides the government-owned civil hospital, this was the only hospital in the city for a long time.

When the coronavirus problem came and the district administration was looking for a good hospital to be designated for receiving Covid patients, the collector and other officials visited the hospital and they liked it because we have a good isolation facility in our complex. The ward is with fully independent rooms, each with an attached bath and toilet and the access to the entire ward is also completely controlled. The hospital has already received 42 Covid positive patients and today we have 14 positive patients receiving treatment here, while the rest have already been discharged. I am proud to say that our personnel have taken very good care of the patients and immediately attended to all their problems and complaints, however, small the issue may have been. I am very happy to say that our nurses have dealt with the patients in an exemplary manner.

We are also very protective of our staff and have provided proper training to them. Despite this, when the first Covid positive patient had come, there was some fear amongst the staff. But slowly our fear has gone and now we treat the Covid positive patients like any other patient and there is no fear amongst us. I am very happy to tell you that when our patients get discharged, they are very happy about the way they were treated by our staff in the hospital and their blessings and gratitude means a lot to all of us.

Have you had any casualties here ?   

No, we did not have any deaths in the hospital, only one patient who was sent here in a very critical situation and on the first day itself he had lots of medical complications, so then we immediately shifted him to the civil hospital and he succumbed within three days there. 

Salvation Army hospital in Ahmednagar

The hospital regularly sanitises the equipment used by its personnel to keep the patients and the staff safe

Did the families of the hospital staff put pressure on them to not go for work ?

When we told everyone that we are going to admit Covid positive patients here, the staff family members were very scared and some even asked them not to go to the hospital. Even though the staff and the nurses were willing to come but the family members were a bit apprehensive. Therefore keeping the safety of the staff in mind, what I did was to ask the security, drivers, sisters all to stay in the hospital itself. We have a good accommodation facility here. We provide them with food and all the necessary things that are required. And the staff that travels everyday we have instructed them to take a bath here once they reach the hospital and again before leaving the hospital. Also I made sure that each and every corner of the hospital has sanitisers available. I have also provided every staff member with sanitisers and soap.

What about the finances? Have you received any funds from the government?

I have not received a single penny from the government. We do not charge the patients too.

How many doctors and nurses do you have?

I have made two groups of my personnel. Those who are aged, I do not allow them to go and treat the Covid patients. Only the young staff is allowed in there. There are 30 staff in the Covid ward that includes nurses, housekeeping, nursing superintendents and bedside assistants. 

How has the flow of patients been?

The first patient came on March 30 and then soon after we started receiving one patient after the other. After some of the patients were treated and discharged, we started receiving more patients from Jamkhed and Sangamner. The medical health department in Ahmednagar is doing a great job in tracing and testing people. We do not do testing here and so far we have not received any repeat patients.



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