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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Oxygen cylinders to isolation wards: As cases rise in Delhi, some RWAs take matters into their own hands

In S block of Greater Kailash-1, residents have tied up with a local hospital 10 minutes away to help with oxygen cylinders.

Written by Surbhi Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: June 14, 2020 11:04:50 am
COVID Coronavirus Delhi cases, delhi coronavirus news updates, coronavirus delhi, delhi coronavirus hospitals, delhi rwas coronavirus, delhi oxygen cylinders, delhi city news Residents of E-block in Greater Kailash 1 examining an oxygen concentrator. (Express photo)

It was a fortnight back when the residents of Greater Kailash-1’s E block woke up to news of the colony reporting its first Covid patient. It took them three days to admit the man, who also suffers from a kidney ailment, to a hospital.

“We were sitting comfortably thinking things were under control till we faced reality. Soon, we got the news that our neighbour’s wife and son had also tested positive. So the search for beds began for them too,” Rajiv Kakaria, a resident of the colony, told The Indian Express.

Two days later, the woman developed breathlessness. “We tried to call the ambulance but couldn’t arrange one. We used an oximeter someone had at home and saw her blood oxygen saturation was low. That’s when a friend offered their elderly mother’s oxygen cylinder,” said Kakaria.

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The next morning, her condition stabilised. “It took three more days for the first patient to get hospitalised, and that’s when we realised the colony needed to take some measures. We did some research, called our doctor friends,” he said.

The RWA has since rented two oxygen concentrators and a portable cylinder that can be used if a patient’s oxygen level falls below 90. “There are 10-15 cases in our block and we have seen difficulties faced by patients. We have also advised residents to keep an oximeter at home,” said Sanjay Anand, chairman of the association.

The machines will be given on a first-come-first-served basis and are, of course, stop gap arrangements until a patient can be hospitalised. Kakaria and Anand said they have received several calls from RWAs who want to replicate the system.

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Rajat Gupta, based in East of Kailash, who deals in sales of respiratory gear, said the demand for oxygen concentrators and cylinders has increased. “If I used to sell one machine in a day, I am now selling 10,” he said. While a machine costs Rs 50,000-70,000, one can be rented for Rs 4,500-Rs 6,000 a month.

But Pankaj Aggarwal, president of the Safdarjung Enclave RWA, said the prices have soared in the past few days. “We called for a meeting and residents decided to pitch in and buy oximeters, concentrators and cylinders as a back-up” he said.

He said he also met government officials and suggested a pilot project to create a locality-level Covid task force to identify patients with comorbidities, tie up for ambulance assistance, lab workup, train local doctors, trace cases, and work on sanitisation with the help of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).

In the C-3 block of Vasant Kunj, too, some residents are chipping in funds to buy oxygen cylinders. In D block of East of Kailash, a few residents have donated old cylinders and machines used by their deceased family members that can be used by Covid patients if the need arises, said Karan Aggarwal, a resident.

In the S block of Greater Kailash-1, residents have tied up with a local hospital 10 minutes away to help with oxygen cylinders. “It is difficult to store and manage these machines so we thought it was better to tie up with them,” said Pankaj Wadhawan, secretary of the colony’s residents’ community. He added they are also paying a monthly rent to the hospital to reserve a few beds, in case residents test positive and need to be admitted.

After procuring machines, arranging isolation wards was the next step. Kakaria said they are in talks with local guesthouses and hotels. In a society in Dwarka’s sector-12, residents and the RWA have pooled in funds and resources to convert vacant flats in their locality into isolation wards. “Since these flats were not being used, we thought of contacting the owners, and they were happy to have us convert them into isolation wards. Some residents put in money for maintenance of flats, and others contributed things like bedsheets,” said Ajay Mittal, who owns a flat in the society. They have also contacted a nearby hospital for guidance and also plan to hire nurses, if need arises.

In New Saraswati Apartments in Rohini’s sector-9, residents have prepared a common ward with six beds. In a video being circulated online, one can see oxygen cylinders, masks and gloves kept inside. At Vasant Kunj’s D-6 block, residents have come together in groups of 25-30 people and are contributing money for a contingency fund. RWA president Snehlata Rathi said, “We are thinking of using the money to buy medical equipment, just in case of some emergency.”

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