Kerala medical team volunteers for COVID-19 work in Mumbai

Published : June 01, 2020 12:20 IST

Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja explaining the COVID-19 prevention, testing and treatment strategies adopted by the State during a videoconference with her Maharashtra counterpart Rajesh Tope on May 18. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A team of volunteer doctors and nurses from Kerala is now in Mumbai at the request of the Maharashtra government offering their services in the COVID-19 battle at the Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri, now run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation as a dedicated COVID-19 facility.

The team is led by Dr S.S. Santhosh Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. He had, in April, similarly organised a 26-member squad of medical professionals from Thiruvananthapuram to help launch a 200-bed COVID-19 facility in Kasaragod, the north Kerala district with the highest number of COVID cases in the country at that time. That effort at the academic block of the Kasargod Medical College (now under construction) won much appreciation in Kerala.

The full team of 50 doctors and 100 nurses mostly from Kerala and also from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and a few other States will soon reach Mumbai to support the treatment efforts at the hospital. The group from Kerala has been drawn generally from private hospitals.

“The 150-member team of doctors and nurses is to be drawn from various parts of the country as volunteers for helping in the COVID treatment efforts,” Dr Santhosh Kumar said in a Facebook post.

The Maharashtra government had written to Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja on May 23 requesting the temporary services of doctors from the State to supplement its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In his letter, Dr T.P Lahane, the State COVID-19 nodal officer and Director of Medical Education and Research, Maharashtra, pointed out that the incidence of COVID-19 was much higher in Mumbai and Pune as compared to other districts in Maharashtra, and that the spread of infection was rapid because of the high density of population in the two cities.

As the State government expected the number of cases to increase in the coming days, he said, it had decided to set up a 600-bed COVID health care centre, including a 125-bed ICU, at Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai.

The letter said Maharashtra needed more doctors and nurses for the management of COVID-19 patients in these two cities and that Dr Santhosh Kumar had offered to provide the required manpower. “On the basis of his assurance we request you to kindly provide 50 specialist doctors and 100 nurses on purely temporary basis to the State of Maharashtra,” the letter said.

The team from Kerala was originally sought for work at the Mahalaxmi Race Course facility.

While seeking volunteers for the team, Dr Santhosh Kumar had said in a Facebook appeal: “We have very good doctors, who know that they need not be afraid of this disease, and have the knowledge and skill to go near the patients, treat them and return without contracting the disease themselves. This is a situation when we should be offering support to other regions that are worst affected by the pandemic. We need to rise up to the situation. We need more doctors who have the scientific knowledge and skill to face up to the challenge. Moreover, we need to offer support to other regions that are desperately in need of it now.”

He also said: “This is a civil society movement. We the doctors and nurses are going to Mumbai on a humanitarian mission….”

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