Dr. Fernandes, his wife Bella, staff of MASARD and village social workers (all volunteers), know their communities better than any health department or health official. The reason being, there is just one Government Primary Health Center, and it is located in one of the 30 villages, in Kamandoddi. Under normal conditions, this Health Center comprises six beds and four doctors. However, the covid-19 pandemic situation has required three of the four doctors to serve elsewhere, leaving just one doctor. Besides which, medical services here are restricted entirely to pregnant mothers suffering from covid. Other critically ill patients must go to the Government Hospitals located in the nearby towns of Hosur or Shoolagiri. This Health Center in Kamandoddi doesn’t have any ambulance services.
In the face of Covid-19 sickness and deaths, and especially the death of a village social worker, Dr. Fernandes felt it was imperative to respond fast before the situation deteriorated beyond help.
And so, the concept of a Community Emergency Response Team was created. The CERT includes an ambulance service available 24 hours/day; an ambulance driver and service manager; and 30 village social workers. The ambulance, a donated van is stationed at the Rural Development Center (RDC) in Hosur in Tamil Nadu, close to the villages we care for.
This critical care service was advertised widely, and WhatsApp groups were formed for each of the villages, headed by their own village social worker. This two way communication keeps everyone informed and “in the loop.”
When a person gets very ill requiring admission to a hospital, that family knows it can contact the Ambulance Service Manager directly and/or their village social worker. The latter, wearing personal protection equipment will arrive at the patient’s home and attend to him/her. The social worker will also confirm with the ambulance service that the caller does need to be brought to the hospital, which is located in Kamandoddi, about 10-15 miles away. The ambulance can arrive within 10-15 minutes depending on the location of the village. The ambulance is equipped with oxygen kits, masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, bottled water, and other related first aid supplies. All personnel are trained in covid critical care and first aid.
The good news is this: By creating a covid critical care response, these villages now have an ambulance service that can continue to serve them even after the pandemic is over. Most very ill villagers don’t have the money or the means to transport themselves to any hospital. And if they do get admitted, many cannot afford to pay for the medicines. That is where we come in to help.
The cost of this invaluable service is $500/month or $6,000/year. The budget covers salaries for the ambulance driver and service manager; gas for the ambulance van and maintenance; small stipends for the village social workers; and critical care supplies. If you are moved to help in this way, please DONATE here. Thank you very much!