An ambulance with a three-member medical team has been parked in Harsh Platinum III, a residential neighbourhood in Ghuma area, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad for two hours during which 11 people volunteered to have their swab samples taken for the Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT).
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is aggressively conducting RAT through Dhanvantri Raths, an OPD van named after the Hindu god of medicine, where tests and prophylactic treatment are done for Covid-19, mainly with AYUSH remedies.
Among the 11 was Kanta Prasad Yadav, a security guard of the apartment, who reported a cough and sore throat. He was taken to the nearest imaging centre for a chest CT scan and dropped back, free of cost.
“The van came two weeks ago, after two employees of Tata Motors Nano plant tested positive in our society, and tested 50 people but nobody tested positive. Now they came after again a few residents tested positive for Covid-19,” said Vimal Patel, a 39-year-old resident who got tested.
After wrapping up the first halt around 1pm, the team heads towards their second stop — Swati Florence, a newly constructed residential society of 265 apartments in South Bopal, a municipality merged with the AMC recently.
Dr Bharat Sedva, 24, on deputation from the Kutch Comm-unity Health Centre (CHC), is in the Dhanvantri van along with other medical personnel and driver Ramesh Mota.
Sedva guides Mota with the help of GPS as the team is new to Ahmedabad. “We get the locations from Jodhpur UHC either a day before or the same day morning,” says Sedva.
After security checks, the van is allowed into the parking area on the ground floor.
Building manager Prem Trivedi tells the team to wait and says, “There was no prior information… This is the time residents have lunch and go for a nap. So it will be difficult to get them… Also, the team was here two weeks ago when most of the residents got diagnosed and tested.”
“We cannot force anyone to get tested, it is voluntary,” says staff nurse Pratik Chauhan, 35, also from Kutch CHC.
The number of vehicles deployed was increased from 80 in May to 119 in June and 125 in July. Now there are 122 vans.
The AMC has deployed around 15,000 Covid management health paramedics in the city, of which over 500 are with Dhanvantri Raths, which have started doing Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) only since July, covering all 48 wards.
The vehicle along with the team is stationed at a given location for two hours and covers three to four locations in a day.
“Though there is no specific testing target, we try to cover as many as possible at one location. But often the residents don’t cooperate. At one residential society, were were not allowed and were told that a team was there five days ago,” said Chauhan.
The team, attached to the Jodhpur Urban Health Centre, takes a break and gets back around 3.30 pm after lunch.
The manager of the society summons 14 housekeeping staff and 10 security guards for the test as they wait for residents to arrive.
“This is my second test in 15 days when a similar van was here,” said 21-year-old Janak Jadhav, one of the housekeeping staff.
An hour past, two residents — a mother-son duo — comes forward. “My father and brother tested positive a day ago and my mother has fever… I called 104 helpline service today morning,” says Ketan Borsadiya, 29.
His mother Nanduben tests positive. Dr Sedva completes the paper work and tells Ketan that the car arranged by AMC will take his mother for a CT scan.
“People usually do not agree to be taken for CT scan as they are scared that they might be taken to a hospital. So they usually say that they will get it done on their own and share the report with AMC,” said Huma Shaikh, a team member.
Past 5 pm, of the 22 who came for testing, only two were residents. The team wraps up, however, their day is not over. They will now head to the UHC at Jodhpur and feed the data in the system.
Dhanvantri Raths, which the Gujarat government has been crediting with the early diagnosis and control of Covid-19, have covered over 8.79 lakh residents since May 17, the highest being in July at 3.14 lakh. This month, around 1.23 lakh were tested till August 20.
Started as OPD services on May 17, Dhanvantri Raths started RTPCR testing in the first week of July that was replaced by RAT later in the month.
“The government mobilised teams from other districts as there was a dire need to provide health care services to the urban population since over 2,800 private clinics and nursing homes were closed,” said Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner, Mukesh Kumar.
The Central government has also decided to replicate Dhanvantri Raths in 50 cities. Additional chief secretary forests and environment department Rajiv Kumar Gupta who is officer on special duty in Ahmedabad city, said, “These integrated fully loaded medical vans have helped us a great deal in reducing the load from urban health clinics.”
He added that the AMC is collecting data and analysing the effectiveness. “The scheme has been very effective in preventing co-morbidity deaths. Also, the Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) and Influenza Like Illness (ILI) cases have come down drastically… from 9 per cent two weeks ago, fever cases are down to 2 per cent,” he said.
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