Snehalaya dedicates hospital to Covid-19 patients

Continuous care for patients & families

Society

May 25, 2021

/ By Varsha Singh / Ahmednagar

Snehalaya dedicates hospital to Covid-19 patients

As government primary healthcare centre was shut down, district administration has asked its healthcare staff to work at Anam Prem

Snehalaya, a leading NGO in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, has set up a unique facility for treating people, including children, afflicted with Covid-19. The centre does not only provide treatment to the children, but also provides shelter and other facilities to their parents, especially those coming from afar.

The rocky terrain hides it very well. As you drive on a dust-path that is used as a road, you are unlikely to spot it at all until it appears all of a sudden, as the path curves around the last bend and it dips suddenly. In the normal times, Anam Prem was a rare residential school dedicated to blind students as well as those with other disabilities. However, these are hardly normal times.

As almost all the students of Anam Prem have gone home to their families, Snehalaya, the NGO that owns and operates the centre has decided to put the extensive facilities at this centre to some good use for the benefit of the underprivileged sections of the society, not just from Ahmednagar city but even from distant rural areas.

When setting up the centre for treating the patients infected with Covid-19, Girish Kulkarni, founder of Snehalaya, decided to go one step further. He realised that one of the biggest problems that relatives of Covid-19 patients face is staying close to the hospital treating their loved one. A large number of them, especially those from distant places or poor families end up staying on the streets.

And since here the patients come from rural parts of the state, fairy far away from the hospital, it was nearly impossible for the relatives not to stay around, ready at hand, while the patient underwent treatment. More so, if more than one person of the same family falls ill, a fairly common occurrence in Covid-19.

For nearly two months, as the catastrophic second wave ravaged Maharashtra, one section of Anam Prem has been converted into a 130-bedded Covid-19 care centre, while other parts are being used for the families of those patients who wish to stay on site.

“The problem starts when in a family the husband and wife have tested positive and they have 2-3 kids. So they don’t understand where to keep the kids and sometimes because of that the kids also test positive. So, we have started this facility where the people who have tested positive can stay in our Covid-19 centre, whereas the kids can stay in the facility adjacent to the centre. So, in that way the families can in a way see each other and feel safe and secure,” Kulkarni tells Media India Group, explaining the reasons behind opening the centre.

Besides free treatment and medicines, Snehalaya also provides lifestyle guidelines to the people on how to stay safe

Snehalaya’s team provides everything that a patient or the relatives may need during their stay at Anam Prem. “Besides free treatment and medicines, we also provide lifestyle guidelines to the people on how to stay safe and also what is to be done during the recovery from Coovid-19. Our teams also give information on Mucormycosis, the notorious black fungus that is a potent side effect of steroids used by doctors while treating patients. Besides, as the families or children are on the campus and the average stay here is at least for two weeks, we also provide some form of entertainment,” says Kulkarni.

Keeping in mind the financial background of the patients, Snehalaya provides not just completely free care, but also picks up the patients and the families. “After we receive a call from a patient’s family, we go and get them from their homes as there is no transportation. And someone who is poor cannot afford even coming by autorickshaws. So our ambulances go and bring them to the centre. Usually, in different facilities we see that one has to reach at those facilities on their own but we don’t do that. We bring them and drop them when they have recovered,” he says.

To keep the family interactions alive, Snehalaya has also set up a loudspeaker which allows the patients to hear from their family members and they can see each other from a distance. As the government primary healthcare centre had been shut down, the district administration has asked its healthcare staff, including three doctors, four nursing staff, to work at Anam Prem. In addition, Snehalaya has provided about 12 volunteers for non-medical assistance needed. The centre also has 30 oxygen concentrator machines of 5 litres and 10 litres capacity.

While the medicines for treatment at Anam Prem have been provided by the government, Snehalaya has also received donations from a few companies and individuals for operating the unique centre. Kulkarni says that almost all those who have used the facilities also make a donation as per their financial capability. “As most people here are farmers, they give us vegetables and fruits grown in their farms as a token of gratitude,” says Kulkarni.

Besides operating the Covid-19 care centre, Snehalaya is preparing other activities. It is working on opening a dedicated centre to take care of children who have lost both their parents to Covid-19. “We are working on launching Sneh Parish, a shelter for 50 Covid-19 orphans within our campus only. We have started a helpline for that so that people can contact us with information on such children,” he says.

Snehalaya has set up a loudspeaker which allows patients to hear from their family members and they can see each other from a distance

There are numerous other relief activities that Snehalaya is set to start soon. “We are also collecting food rations for poor people and will start distributions soon. Another thing that we are doing with the help of Give India foundation is that we are providing INR 30,000 to those families that have lost the sole breadwinner. We are doing a survey and putting in all the information through an app. There are some individuals who want to support the families of those who have been impacted due to the pandemic. We are connecting them. As Covid-19 has also imposed a hefty economic cost on most Indians, continuing their children’s education may be a challenge for many families. To help them, we have started an initiative called Vidya Sahyog through which we will provide interest free loan to the kids who have lost the breadwinner. Those kids will have to return the money within two years after completing their education,” says Kulkarni.

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