For Davinder Singh, admitting his uncle to the Covid care facility at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj was the most obvious choice.
When coronavirus hit home, the various scenes of crisis from the hospitals since the second wave of the pandemic hit the country played up before Singh.
“My uncle had a high fever for a few days. When the oxygen level started dipping and the doctor told me that he needed hospitalisation, we called up a volunteer from the facility. He immediately sent an ambulance, and the admission was hassle-free. He is getting sound treatment there,” says Singh.
“The visual of dead bodies at hospitals has been haunting us... After admitting him at the facility at Gurdwara Rakabganj, we feel assured that he will be fine soon,” he adds.
When Covid patients not getting oxygen beds and their family running from pillar to post to avail oxygen, medicines and other facilities has become a nightmarish reality for the national capital, the facility at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj is a beacon of hope for such people in these times of crisis.
The newly set-up Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Covid Care Facility was opened for the public on Monday, May 10. The centre set up by the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) is equipped with all possible facilities for Covid patients short of ICU units.
Each of the beds at the 400-bed facility is equipped with oxygen support. The patients are also provided medicine and food by the DSGMC. There 15 ambulances for ferrying patients.
The ambulance service, food and treatment are free of cost at the facility. It is linked to the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital with nearly 50 doctors from the hospital taking care of the patients admitted at the facility. There are around 150 nurses and ward boys at the facility to provide relief to those admitted.
The facility is admitting patients with mild to moderate Covid symptoms and those with oxygen levels of 85 and above. Each bed is attached to oxygen concentrators.
The facility is open to women, men and children. A speaker at the facility plays Gurbani and kirtan to provide a soothing ambience to patients, say volunteers.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president, DSGMC, recounts how the personal losses and the large-scale crisis unfolding in the capital and other parts of the country left him shaken.
“Though we were responding to distress calls, we realised there was an immediate need to offer a streamlined experience to people to access healthcare for Covid positive patients. As the tragedy was unfolding, people were running around for oxygen and being forced to buy medicines from the black market,” says Sirsa.
Between Monday to Sunday, 138 patients were admitted to the facility, and seven were discharged. No patient has been rejected admission at the facility, according to the DSGMC. There were some challenges in the beginning that were resolved later, he added. The Delhi government has appreciated the effort.
After visiting the facility on Monday, Health Minister Satyendar Jain tweeted, “The 400 bed Covid care & treatment centre at Gurudwara Rakab Ganj is commencing service from today. Visited the facility to review the amenities. It is equipped with oxygen support and medicines. Thankful to Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee for their undying support. (sic)”
Apart from the medical services and facilities available here, one of the things that people are praising about the centre is the positive environment and holistic approach of the place. Taranjit Singh who admitted his father at the facility after withdrawing him from a private hospital said they decided on this after consulting several people.
“We consulted a range of people before we decided to admit my father at this facility. Hospital has a typical ambience... my father was getting anxious there. Here, there is a different vibe... there is positivity. Plus, there is a team of round-the-clock doctors attached at the facility. We are happy with the treatment that he is getting there,” says the 19-year-old.
Inder Singh Monty, a volunteer and DSGMC member, said the facility stands out with team members trying to boost the morale of patients and their families.
“There is a need to address the situation holistically. When patients and their families arrive here, they are in distress. So counselling them is an important part of the process. The motto of this facility is humanity first,” Monty says.
“From experience, we realised that people were panic-stricken by the time they reached the facility. This is because they are in crisis... they feel there will be a shortage of oxygen and beds. So as the first step, we ensure them that they would be taken care of now that they have reached here. For patients who need ICU facilities, we redirect them to LNJP hospital,” he adds.
The team of volunteers assigned swing into action from the moment they receive calls from the patient’s families.
Charanpreet Singh Sethi, a volunteer, explained how the team operates. There are 46 members who have been designated area-wise in order to respond to distress calls. “In the first stage, we try to resolve the issue locally so the case can be handled at home. In addition, we also ensure help reaches them in the form of meals, oxygen or any other requirements, he says.
“If it cannot be resolved locally, then we tell the families to bring the patient here. We follow a transparent model of admission. In addition to stabilising the patient physically, we also provide emotional support,” says Sethi. The volunteers also ensure that patients get nutritious food.
The volunteers who work round-the-clock, both in person and virtually, said they draw strength from their families and their commitment to serve humanity.
The DSGMC is also providing food to the other underprivileged, migrant labourers and COVID affected families in the capital. Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has come to support the work being done by them and donated an amount of Rs 2 crore for this facility.
Hailing Bachchan’s contribution, Sirsa took to Twitter to express his gratitude, “Sikhs are legendary. I salute the efforts of Sikhs” These were the words of @SrBachchan Ji when he contributed `2 Cr to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Covid Care Facility. While Delhi was grappling for Oxygen, Amitabh Ji called me almost daily to enquire about the progress of this facility.”
The DSGMC is now planning to add 100 more beds with oxygen facilities and 10 ICU beds with five ventilators to the Guru Harkrishan Institute of Medical Sciences and Research’s new block at Delhi’s Gurdwara Bala Sahib within a period of 20 days.
“A third wave seems inevitable now from what the experts are saying. In order to fight the shortage of beds and to be better prepared, we have decided to make more facilities available in case the need arises. This facility will be made available in addition to the existing facilities of kidney treatment at the centre. While the old block will accommodate the ICU facilities, the new block will have 100 beds for Covid patients,” says Sirsa.
The Covid care centre at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj is linked to the Delhi govt-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital with nearly 50 doctors taking care of the patients admitted at the facility. There are around 150 nurses and ward boys at the facility.
The facility is admitting patients with mild to moderate Covid symptoms and those with oxygen levels of 85 and above. Each bed is attached to oxygen concentrators. Patients who need ICU facilities, are sent to LNJP
400-bed facility inaugurated on May 1 at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj
Those with mild/moderate Covid being treated at the facility
Admission only for those with oxygen saturation at 85 or more
Superstar Amitabh Bachchan donated Rs 2 crore for the facility
Guru Harkrishan Institute of Medical Sciences and Research to get 100 more beds with oxygen facilities and 10 ICU beds in 20 days
With the national capital struggling to provide beds, oxygen, medicine and other facilities to corona positive patients, a Covid care centre at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj is taking care of people for free with the spirit of selfless service, reports Ritwika Mitra