By ARDEN BASTIA For Dr. Jinen Thakkar, the COVID crisis in India hits close to home. Dr. Thakkar, who now serves as a hospitalist at Kent Hospital, was born and raised in Mumbai, where many of his family members, including parents, still live.
For Dr. Jinen Thakkar, the COVID crisis in India hits close to home. Dr. Thakkar, who now serves as a hospitalist at Kent Hospital, was born and raised in Mumbai, where many of his family members, including parents, still live.
Thankfully, Dr. Thakkar’s family is safe and healthy.
But not everyone in India is so lucky.
In response to the COVID crisis in India, Dr. Thakkar, along with Dr. Laura Forman, chief of emergency medicine at Kent Hospital, is collecting critical medical supplies to provide aid for India’s patients and healthcare personnel.
The country is reporting 400,000 COVID cases per day; a number Dr. Thakkar called “daunting”.
“The numbers are definitely mind boggling,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “Rhode Island has not had 400,000 cases in total, so you can just imagine the monstrosity of the numbers.”
Dr. Thakkar and Dr. Forman have worked on the front lines of the state’s COVID crisis since it hit last March.
Dr. Thakkar worked alongside the National Guard and Department of Health at the Sockanosett field hospital, where he was involved with the inception, assembly, and administration of the hospital.
Drs. Thakkar and Forman said they were fortunate hospitals in Rhode Island were Care New England Monday. Patients never had to go without oxygen or a bed, and staff never had to go without gloves and masks.
But for India, the situation is much different.
“Hospitals have run out of beds, medications, and oxygen to treat patients. Patients are dying outside of hospitals, waiting for a bed, and health care workers are putting their lives in danger by working without necessary PPE. Family members are desperately trying to find oxygen cylinders and supplies for their sick loved ones,” said Dr. Thakkar.
When Drs. Thakkar and Forman learned of patients being treated on the floors with no oxygen, and scarce or no PPE for the healthcare workers, they knew they had to act by coordinating a mass donation of needed supplies. They are asking for monetary and in kind donations of medical supplied to aid in addressing this devastating humanitarian crisis.
Drs. Forman and Thakkar are looking for medical supplies such as gloves, N95 and surgical masks, gowns, face shields, goggles, oxygen supplies like empty cylinders, ventilators, concentrators, BiPAP and CPAP machines, pulse oximeters, tubing, monitoring and resuscitation supplies, rehab supplies, and rapid testing kits. Students from around the state are writing cards and notes to accompany the supplies.
Dr. Thakkar estimates that a delivery will be made sometime next week,
“How much is donated will ultimately decide what kind of dent we can make over there,” said Dr. Thakkar. “Sourcing resources is the best way we can help.”
This isn’t Dr. Thakkar’s first time doing humanitarian aid work for India. He has previously lead outreach programs in villages, worked on vaccination drives, and coordinated healthcare delivery systems for remote villages that don’t have access to hospitals. Dr. Thakkar has assisted with natural disaster relief programs, last in July 2006, when the country was hit with a series of devastating tropical storms that left villages submerged in four to six feet of water.
While COVID relief efforts look a little different than natural disasters, Dr. Thakkar said there are some similarities.
“When you have multitudes of people affected, like with a natural calamity or COVID, supply systems get interrupted. The sheer number of people who need supplies does lead to a lack of such supplies and that ultimately causes bad outcomes,” he said.
Drs. Forman and Thakkar are working with the World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia Regional Office, which is coordinating the donation distribution in India.
“Having worked on the front lines in Rhode Island when we had the highest per capita number of COVID-19 cases in the world, at least among countries that were able to test and report them, we’ve been struck by the situation facing our colleagues and patients in India,” Dr. Forman said in a statement.
For more information about donating supplies or to make a monetary donation, visit www.foundation.kentri.org/pages/india-covid-crisis-relief or email Dr. Thakkar at firstname.lastname@example.org.