With news of Covid-19 patients dying after being refused by hospitals and not getting ambulances on time hitting the headlines, several housing societies in Kolkata have come up with their own infrastructure to provide their residents with the basic care and facilities during the crises.
While some societies have turned their community centres and gyms into ‘safe homes’ equipped with isolation beds and oxygen cylinders, others have tied up with private hospitals to ensure that residents who test positive get admission and ambulance service.
“We have turned our community centre into a six-bedded ‘safe home’ with oxygen cylinders and other equipment such as sphygmomanometer and pulse oximeters. A Covid-19 positive resident can use it as a quarantine facility. We have tied up with a super-speciality hospital so that critical patients can be hospitalized without any hassle. The hospital will provide ambulance,” said Sanjay Kumar Goel, vice president of Suncity a housing society in north Kolkata with around 300 flats.
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Recently chief minister Mamata Banerjee had urged large housing societies to keep pulse-oximeters handy so that the oxygen saturation level of residents could be measured. Hospitalization is needed if the oxygen level drops below 90 percent.
“The union health ministry had issued some guidelines for gated residential complexes in July which said that residential societies can come up with Covid19 care facilities following guidelines of the ministry of health and family welfare. We have already developed a five-bedded facility with round the clock doctors and caregivers for our residents in the housing society. The state health department officials had come for a check. We are waiting for an approval. A few other housing societies in New Town have also developed such facilities. Some of the housing societies have also come together to form a network of doctors who can provide help,” said Sudipta Mukherjee, president of Greenwood Sonata housing in New Town.
In a small housing society in east Kolkata, the resident welfare committee has tied up with a local nursing home so that they can get a doctor and nurse on call to check Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms. They have also developed a quarantine centre with four beds in one of the vacant twin-bedroom flats. The nursing home would give them telemedicine services twice in a day. An attendant has also been engaged who would go to the local market and buy all necessary items for the patients.
After news report poured in over the past few months that some patients died as they didn’t get any ambulance on time while others were charged with exorbitant amounts by ambulance drivers, a housing society in Salt Lake decided to tie-up with an agency that would provide an ambulance on call.
“We have tied up with a local agency which has two ambulances. They would provide us with an ambulance at a fixed price round the clock,” said Radhagobinda Sil, president of Baisakhi housing society in Salt Lake.
Residents said that whenever a community centre or the gym is being turned into a quarantine centre, they are taking the expert help from local doctors and medical experts of the civic body.
“Some housing societies have developed their own infrastructure like safe homes. This a very good initiative as these would help us keep the hospital beds free for critically ill patients. Even though there is no shortage of beds in government-run Covid-19 hospitals at present, there are more patients in hospitals with mild and no symptoms than critically ill patients. Mild and asymptomatic patients can easily be treated at home and safe homes,” said a senior official of the state health department.