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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

In Haryana, ‘Team Deepender’ lends a helping hand

With 300 volunteers working round the clock in 22 districts of Haryana, @TeamDeepender led by Rajya Sabha member Deepender Hooda is trending on social media in the state these days, acting as a mediator between hapless patients and healthcare facilities.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 12, 2021 1:34:34 am
In Haryana, Team Deepender lends a helping handTeam Deepender control room in Rohtak, Haryana. (Express Photo)

Ever since 68-year-old Ashok Kumar, a Covid patient from Faridabad, began to have bouts of breathlessness on May 1, his son Sunny, an assistant professor at Manav Rachna University, had been struggling to find an oxygen bed. With his father’s oxygen saturation plummeting, and no bed in sight, he had almost lost hope when a friend put out an SOS on Twitter.

An hour later, Sunny received a call from a man who identified himself as a member of @TeamDeepender, sought some details, and arranged an oxygen bed. ‘‘It was almost like a miracle,’’ marvels Sunny.

Mughda Mishra Anand, a Gurgaon resident in home isolation, also took to Twitter when her domestic help’s brother Harish passed away. ‘‘We called up various helplines for his last rites but got no response. It was a nightmare,’’ says Anand, who finally tweeted about it. ‘‘Things began to move after @TeamDeepender contacted me. The police sent a team to our house and eventually Harish was cremated after over 24 hours of his death.’’

With 300 volunteers working round the clock in 22 districts of Haryana, @TeamDeepender led by Rajya Sabha member Deepender Hooda is trending on social media in the state these days, acting as a mediator between hapless patients and healthcare facilities.

From arranging beds, doctors, counsellors, oxygen and medicine supplies, to performing the last rites of Covid-19 patients whose family members are unable to reach in time, @TeamDeepender is coming to the aid of many a hapless patient battling the pandemic not just in the state, but in the national capital as well.

Parag Jain, a manufacturer of aluminium foils and sheets, told The Indian Express, “My mother and brother tested positive a few days ago, and soon their condition began to deteriorate. Despite our best efforts, we could not find any hospital for them in Delhi. I searched Facebook and found @TeamDeepender’s contact number. They helped me find hospital beds for my mother and brother in Ballabhgarh.’’ Admission done, Jain again got in touch with them when he needed Remdesivir injections and a few medicines not available at the hospital. ‘‘To my surprise they not only arranged these medicines but also delivered an oxygen cylinder to the hospital. My mother was finally discharged last week, and my brother is recovering. I don’t think this would have been possible without their help”.

A few industrialists, a number of doctors, chemists, students, head of a religious sect and a handful of Congress party workers make for the Team Deepender. Together, they have set up a control room at Faridabad, where the back-end teams work in two 12-hour shifts.

They focus on seven areas – online primary health care advice, beds in government and private hospitals, plasma facilitation for both donors and recipients, oxygen/medicines, ambulance, food for families of Covid-19 patients in home isolation, and cremations of those who lose their battle to the virus.

The Twitter handle of @TeamDeepender is flooded with calls for help and thank you notes from a diverse set of people. Among them is BJP leader and Olympian Yogeshwar Dutt who thanked @TeamDeepender for providing help to a patient who had also recently lost his father due to Covid-19.

Talking to The Indian Express, Deepender Hooda says the team has a success rate of 50 per cent when it comes to fulfilling the requests of people, and above 70 per cent when it comes to standing by them in their hour of need.

It was late March when Hooda thought of setting up this group of volunteers. “When the second wave hit Mumbai, we knew it would spread to Haryana too. We constituted a team of 10-15 volunteers per district with another 20-strong team headed by me at the control room. Today, around 300 volunteers are working round the clock across the state as requests pour in.”

The team has set up a helpline 8908404040 dedicated to connecting plasma donors to recipients. ‘‘Our teams are also in touch with government-appointed nodal officers for oxygen and medicines such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab which are regulated by the administration. We coordinate with both private and government hospitals to help people secure beds and medical care,’’ says Hooda.

The MP shrugs off any questions about the government handling of the pandemic. ‘‘This is not the time for such a discussion. Let us focus on helping as many people as we can.’’

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