The first wave passed us by – especially because the new Panchayat President and THI put forth a remarkable process of awareness, isolation, and preventive measures. This effort was even reported in the press. However the second wave was different as people let down their guard and the fight was uphill.
Closing the tap is as important as mopping the floor has been the Sittilingi approach. We started trying to close the tap almost 3 weeks before the lockdown, when the cities were already being hit by the Covid tsunami. Spaced village meetings, education of the small shops etc.; frequent announcements through vehicles and the local “tandoora”. The hospital too was ready – a 15 bed exclusive Covid ward, protective gear, oxygen, testing, medicines etc. in place.
Though we did run a 15 bed Covid ward, we have also been spending a lot of energy in the community. The only way the Staff and Ward would not be overcome by patients and lack of resources is to have community involvement and community prevention. Our youth came forward to do house to house education, sharing the helplines. Constant reminders through vehicle announcements, follow ups of suspects by our nurses in the field, psychological support by our docs and nurses of anybody having fever have been an additional step.
We have seen about 500 patients of which about half needed oxygenation. We lost 2 patients in the ward, 2 in the villages who refused to come to the hospital; 15 referred patients of whom 2 died. The rest have all gone home well or are getting better. The good news is that, in these trying times, people have been SO GENEROUS. Oxygen cylinders, Oxygen concentrators and munificent monetary contributions have helped to make our life easier.
As cases in Sittilingi came down and our Covid Ward is now emptying, how do we prepare for the next wave? Our team decided that our responsibility now is to put as many hurdles between the valley and the 3rd wave – and to get as many immunized as possible. Each day a team traverses the villages recording who all got immunized and who all are ready for vaccination. We explain why immunization is important and try and remove their fear and co-ordinate with the local PHC so that we cover as much population as possible. Only when everybody here has protection can we rest.
Thank you, all friends, for helping us to do our work without any other tensions We could only do this because the foundation was the community, not the hospital.