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Safeguarding the COVID-19 warriors

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Various industry stakeholders come forward to provide PPE to ensure safety of the Indian healthcare work force who are fighting against COVID-19

For the past few months, coronavirus has kept the global medical workforce on their toes. With the number of cases increasing rapidly, healthcare providers are vigilant and working 24*7 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In this bargain, many healthcare providers across the globe have even succumbed to the disease.

According to the information received by the World Health Organization (WHO), until April 8, 2020, over 22,000 doctors and healthcare workers in about 52 countries have caught the virus while on duty.  The number seems to  be rising every day.

Coming to India, cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Indore, Chennai and Andhra Pradesh, among others, have seen many healthcare providers also been infected. At present, the country needs at least a million PPE kits, 40 million N95 masks, 20 million surgical masks and a million litres of hand sanitisers to save its healthcare workforce. To deal with the dire situation and protect those who are busy protecting everyone from this pandemic, some companies have come forward to provide them with essentials for their safety.

Contribution from industries

Sahajanand Medical Technologies (SMT) started manufacturing a face shield called COVach realising the urgent need to protect the frontline healthcare workers. “We designed the COVach and got it outsourced to a local vendor in Gujarat who is experienced at manufacturing high-quality devices,” said a spokesperson from SMT.

Of late, SMT has distributed 35,000 COVach in 22 hospitals in 10 states – Gujarat, Delhi, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Made of a grade of PVC which is water repellent, a COVach can be sterilised by normal process of ETO or cleaning with sterilisers.

On receiving COVach, Dr Ravikant Patil, Interventional Cardiologist and Director, Sevasadan Superspeciality Hospital, said that face shields are one of the important gears for self protection. “These COVach should be given to all frontline workers who come across common crowds. This is beneficial for tier-two and tier-three cities as personal protective equipment (PPE) are not easily available there,” he added.

Online portal Portea Medical is providing PPE kits to its healthcare staff that include 50/80/90 GSM white polyester non-woven apron (elastic cuff, collar and zip), shoe cover (impermeable fabric), cap, 3ply mask or N95 (with or without respirator) and sterile gloves. Polycarbonate zoom goggles and waste bag are optional in this kit.

Informing about the steps taken for ensuring the safety of his healthcare workers, Dr Vishal Sehgal, Medical Director, Portea Medical, claimed, “We are taking several measures. First, we conduct the required diagnostic tests if any staff member complains of normal uneasiness like a stomach pain or anything else. If any worker gets flu or running fever, we immediately request them to get the COVID-19 test done and take the necessary steps required. Second, we ensure that our staff is trained and complies with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF&W) including proper hand hygiene and following the social distancing norms. Third, for our healthcare workers and caregivers who are going out, we provide PPE kits and train them on how to use these properly. We also conduct a health checkup before the caregivers visit patients. Whenever there is a new lead, we check the patient’s history and that of their family including travel or any underlying medical conditions and take the required action.”

Medical staff at Portea feels safe and satisfied by the steps the company has taken for their well-being. Khyali Ram, who has been working as a nurse there for almost two years, feels happy that Portea is giving him protection during these times. “There has always been regular training on hygiene and what to do and what not. Even before COVID-19 crisis came in, we were always provided with masks and sanitisers. Hygiene has always been important for Portea and now with coronavirus pandemic, we are even provided with full PPE kits. Moreover, regular health check-ups are also conducted to ensure that we are fit,” he shared.

Earlier this month, Gurugram-based Arm Worldwide received queries and requests from doctors across the country regarding masks and PPE kits. They belonged to hospitals like AIIMS New Delhi, AIIMS Bhubaneswar, Indian Army Hospital, Bhopal; 45 ASSAM RIFLES; Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana; Civil Hospital, Solapur, Maharashtra; MGM Medical College, Jamshedpur; Government Medical College, Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K); and hospitals from Gujarat. In order to help them, Honey Singh, CEO, Arm Worldwide executed mass deliveries and logistics smoothly across India to these hospitals with the support from India Post.

“So far, we have donated more than 15,000 KIMBERLY-CLARK PFR95 N95 Particulate Filter Respirators imported from Scotland. We have also received confirmation from AIIMS New Delhi microbiologist that by far, this is the best N95 mask they have used, and they are keeping those for critical COVID cases. In addition, we have also provided them around 5000+ HIV kits and protective suits from Ramsons,” Singh informed.

He further added, “In the last couple of weeks, we have served more than 2,000 doctors in AIIMS, New Delhi; over 2,000 from DeenDayal Upadhyay and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital; and more than 1,000 doctors and staff from Manipal Hospitals.” Singh, along with two other organisations – PR innovations and Amazfit – has been working to help COVID-19 medical workforce under the ‘WorkForDoctors’ initiative.

Parle Agro’s Prakash Jyantilal Chauhan Foundation has also provided 3,000 PPE kits to Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College and General Hospital in Sion, Mumbai recently since the municipal-run hospital was facing a grave shortage of PPE for their social service department staff who were dealing with the treatment of poor and needy patients coming from the slums of Mumbai and beyond Maharashtra.

Collaboration becomes the key

For years, Indians have been coming together and helping each other during crises. Today, when our medical workforce needs help, people from various other sectors are coming together to stand by them, because standing united for our warriors is a must in these times of trouble so that they feel safe and strong enough to fight and defeat this pandemic.

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