At least two communities have opened their own dedicated Covid care centres in Surat last week, while three others have proposed to do the same, as the diamond and the textile hubs in the city see a steady rise in coronavirus cases since Unlock-1.
The first 100-bed community Covid care centre was opened on July 2 in Katargam, a diamond polishing hub and now a hotspot for Covid-19 which has reported nearly 1,200 positive cases so far. In the same week, Vataliya Prajapati Samaj also opened its community isolation centre. Terapanth, Maheshwaris and the Agrasen communities plan to open Covid care centres to cater to asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients.
Surat city has till date recorded a total of 5,894 positive cases, and 226 deaths. The city has two government hospitals — the 740-bed New Civil Hospital (NCH) and the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC)-run Surat Municipal Institution of Medical Education and Research (SMIMER) which has a capacity of 780 beds while Samras Centre (Isolation centre) has 500 beds.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani who visited Surat on Saturday promised to add 600 beds in Stem Cell Hospital and more such beds in Kidney hospital, both on NCH campus, and 200 more ventilators to fight Covid-19 in Surat. The NCH now has a total of 386 Covid patients and SMIMER has 100 positive patients. Presently, 10 private hospitals are sharing their 50 per cent beds for Covid-19 patients referred from SMIMER and NCH. The city has been reporting a daily average of 200 plus cases since June 29.
The Samast Patidar Samaj Trust Community hall was opened by principal secretary, health and family welfare, Jayanti Ravi on July 2 when she said it was the “first such community-run Covid care centre in the country”. The place used to be let out for weddings and other social functions in the community.
Samast Patidar Samaj Trust founder trustee Mathurbhai Sawani said, “We are the first to have taken an initiative of giving up our entire wadi (hall) for isolation of non critical Covid-19 patients. There are many people in our community who stay in a small room with single washroom and toilet. They cannot maintain isolation. So we made a plan and shared it with SMC authorities and they agreed. Our chefs are also ready, and they will cook food for the patients. We are yet to receive any patients from the SMIMER and civil hospital, and hope to start getting from Tuesday onwards.”
The Vataliya Prajapati Samaj also met municipal commissioner BN Pani and Mayor Dr Jagdish Patel to use the Vataliya Samaj hall at Gayatri society in Katargam area. However, SMC authorities found that the hall was located in a residential society, and rejected the proposal. Instead they offered the SMC
community hall at Vasta Devdi road for the community. The community leaders also made arrangements for chef and other logistics which was also inaugurated by Ravi and Mayor Patel, along with the Patidar facility.
Talking to The Indian Express, Vataliya Prajapati Samaj president Nandlal Pandav said, “There are many positive cases reported from our community. After a patient is discharged, he or she has to be kept under isolation for a few more days. SMC has given us a community hall and we have made arrangements of 150 beds. We have also told the municipal authorities that our community has over 30 doctors and they can visit the isolation centre regularly and treat such patients, if needed.”
Pandav further added, “Around 600 diamond polishers who tested positive from Katargam zone, are from Prajapati and Patidar communities. Keeping this in mind the Isolation centres have been set up by both the communities.”
A group of traders associated with real estate and diamond businesses, under the leadership of Harsh Sanghavi, BJP MLA of Majura seat in Surat, jointly set up a Covid care centre at the SMC-run Althan community hall where such Covid-19 positive patients will be treated after they are referred from the civic or government hospitals. The community hall turned into a dedicated Covid-19 hospital at Althan area in Surat has 182 beds.
Sanghavi said, “We are using disposable beds made up of corrugated board and there will be two to three beds in each cubicle. Each cubicle will have one television set, and each bed will have wireless bell connected to the doctor’s room. Each bed has independent oxygen line and hot water kettle… We have also made separate wards for male and female patients. Same has been done for the doctors and nursing staff.”
Presidents and secretary of Terapanth Samaj, Agrasen Samaj and Maheshwari Samaj paid visit to the Althan community hall-turned Covid centre and had shown interest in starting such medical facility in their private community halls. The communities have also proposed to the SMC to open community Isolation centres in their existing community halls. A majority of people from these communities are engaged in textile industry.
Terapanth Samaj Surat trustee Balchandra Batala said, “We have seen the arrangements of the community hall at Althan. We are planning to set up a similar centre at our hall in Gopipura area. We have a ground and one floor building hall and we can easily set up infrastructure required for isolation centre there, where patients from Jain community will be given first preference. We have doctors and paramedical staff from our community who will treat patients at the centre.”
Satyanarayan Maheshwari, trustee of Maheshwari Samaj, said, “We are also ready to set up isolation centre for our community people in Maheshwari Bhavan on City Light road. On Tuesday, we will carry out meeting with SMC authorities. We will also take help from Harsh Sanghavi. The hall is on the ground floor and can accommodate around 100 beds.”
The Agrawal community which is mostly engaged in textile trading has proposed to convert the Agrasen hall at City light area into a Covid-19 isolation centre, said the community leader Manoj Agrawal.
Agrawal, who is also the chairman of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA), said, “We have sent a proposal to SMC seeking permission. We also have doctors from our community who will treat patients. We can make arrangements of around 100 beds. We also have two more halls in the city which can be used.”
Surat Municipal Commissioner Pani said, “We have got proposal from Terapanthi, Maheshwari and Agrawal samaj and they have shown their willingness to start community isolation centre to cater to their own community people. They also have their own doctors and paramedical staff who will work there. SMC will provide all basic facilities.”