Where there’s a will, there’s a way: My journey setting up a Covid ward in India

Contributed by Saravanakumar Periyasamy of EO Oman, director of Zawawi Powertech Engineering. In 2019, he grew to become the director of Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai, India.

My journey begins

In 2019, I used to be despatched to Chennai, India, as a part of the crew assigned to show round a as soon as distinguished, now ailing, hospital model in South India. Personally, transitioning from the oil, fuel and vitality business to the healthcare realm alone was a major adjustment. After which, in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic struck earlier than I had absolutely acclimated to my new surroundings. 

The magnitude of the pandemic, each globally and personally, was unprecedented and past any scale of creativeness. There wasn’t one economic system or area that was proof against the ravages of Covid-19. 

Whereas most residents had been suggested to stay indoors to tame the virus unfold, a few of us―the frontline staff―needed to reply the decision of responsibility. And although I had not labored within the healthcare business earlier than, instantly, I used to be a frontline employee in a necessary job who needed to present up in particular person to work. 

The primary wave

Though the primary wave of Covid was daunting, we might finally be taught it was delicate in contrast with the gravity of the second wave. Because the second wave hit, one thing inside me mentioned, now that my household had invested within the healthcare business, not enjoying our half within the pandemic wasn’t proper (by way of not having a delegated Covid ward in our hospital to assist to avoid wasting lives). 

One 12 months into the disaster, individuals had grown complacent and adopted a torpid angle―which gave delivery to the second wave. By the point the second wave hit, the healthcare system was overstretched and overwhelmed.

Our hospital, Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai, has a single specialty―cardiac care. Subsequently, we didn’t have a delegated ward the place we might deal with Covid sufferers. As a non-medical skilled, I lacked most of the essential skillsets to set one up. Even so, I resolved to make my contribution to the disaster by organising Frontier Lifeline Hospital’s new Covid ward and making certain its clean operations.

Confronting new challenges

Probably the most difficult a part of the journey was convincing our cardiac-focused medical doctors and nurses to begin treating Covid sufferers and to organize them mentally for this problem. The hospital hadn’t taken in Covid sufferers within the first wave as a result of it was a single-specialty hospital.

Though I’ve learn many books on disaster administration, nothing compares to what I learned first-hand through the Covid disaster. With a mix of measures, together with monetary incentives, free therapy for many who acquired contaminated whereas on responsibility, and free therapy for any of their kinfolk who acquired contaminated, I succeeded in overcoming my first impediment. I needed to inspire numerous personnel throughout the hierarchy to get their buy-in. 

As soon as the medical doctors and nurses had been able to deal with and we acquired Covid sufferers admitted, we realized that we had been missing correct tools and variety of nurses. I spent numerous hours making telephone calls to find nurses with Covid-care expertise so we might have sufficient nurses for the troublesome instances forward. I additionally reached out frantically to suppliers, providing upfront cost for tools we desperately wanted, together with ventilators, displays, BiPAPs and CPAPs. With a stroke of luck, I secured the required provides inside a number of days after changing into operational. 

One of many hardest points of working in healthcare is coping with deaths in massive numbers, and our hospital skilled many Covid deaths. I used to be personally current and concerned, alongside one other physician—my brother—pacifying kinfolk of the deceased within the preliminary days of our Covid ward as a result of mortality charges had been very excessive. It’s a sense that I’ve by no means skilled earlier than as an entrepreneur. The scene was emotionally overwhelming. In instances like these, you acknowledge the fragility of life and begin excited about your life’s purpose

We will overcome

After we managed by means of the startup obstacles and put the right protocols and processes in place, we obtained information that your entire metropolis of Chennai was working out of oxygen. Hospitals had been forewarned of this life-threatening scarcity. When this information broke, I used to be mentally and bodily exhausted from my efforts in establishing our Covid ward. My household and pals stepped as much as give me the braveness, assist and serving to palms to go that additional mile in coping with this new scenario. 

EO Chennai to the rescue!

Buddies within the native EO Chennai chapter got here to our rescue and shared very important connections with me within the nick of time—simply as we had been working out of oxygen. These connections proved invaluable, and provided our hospital with a handful of oxygen cylinders, which gave our ward a two-day buffer within the occasion of not getting extra oxygen provides. That was the turning level. With the oxygen cylinders EO Chennai helped provide, we saved tons of of sufferers and lowered our ward’s mortality price.

We had been a couple of month into the second wave disaster presently, and I used to be attuned to consider the worst of worst-case situations. Consequently, I began exploring choices for importing cryogenic liquid oxygen in bulk―which might assist us run the hospital for months with out exterior provides. Luckily, I discovered a provider in Oman who agreed to provide us with liquid oxygen. We realized on the go; the time hole between ideation and implementation was virtually zero. Ultimately, we didn’t import the liquid oxygen because the scenario began to stabilize because of the strict lockdown measures then. However I had made plans and stored every little thing prepared—together with freight and logistics.

I need to thank the EO community from the underside of my coronary heart. With out you, I couldn’t have gotten by means of this most troublesome of challenges!

After I consider my expertise establishing a Covid ward in Chennai with little prior medical expertise, I’ll at all times bear in mind, “The place there’s a will, there’s a manner!”

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