RAJASTHAN: A modest but dedicated husband-wife team has emerged as Covid warriors in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district. Raju Vyas, a headmaster at a government school at Pratap Nagar, and his wife Chandra Harsh, a Grade One nurse at the Ummed Hospital, have offered a lifeline to saving dozens of corona-infected patients in the city. Jodhpur is the hometown of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
The couple has converted a part of Surajdevi Roopa Devi Pushtikar private school run by Pushkarna community into a mini Covid care centre to help people battle against the pandemic. Patients are provided medicines, treatment and even oxygen- equipped beds. In addition, the centre provides isolation facilities for those with less serious conditions and food to all.
All these services are for free, thanks to donations made by the local society. Located at the city’s Siwanchi Gate area, the mini Covid care centre came up in a part of the school premises with permission of the Jodhpur Collector and the CMHO as Jodhpur emerged as a major hotspot in the state. With 24,797 active cases and 776 deaths, the city is only next to Jaipur in terms of the number of Covid patients in the state. The centre looks after 18 patients and is ready to house 50 beds after the government’s goahead. Last year too, the school was converted into a quarantine centre for about 135 patients.
This year as the second wave of the pandemic is more severe, the husband-wife team is keen to provide valuable service to the walled city area where the school is located. “In the old city of Jodhpur, most homes are smaller, and if a person gets infected, it is very difficult to isolate the patient, endangering others. All the 135 patients who were kept in isolation at our school last year had fully recovered,” says Raju Vyas. To enable it to become an effective Covid care centre, the government has deputed a doctor and three nursing employees.
What provides special strength to the centre is Raju’s wife who is his biggest inspiration. Chandra Harsh, a Grade One nurse, not only stays at the Centre after duty hours, but also brings along a few other nursing colleagues to provide better services to the patients at the school-cum-Covid centre. “Most patients get treated at home, but what happens when someone’s oxygen level drops below 94 and they are unable to find an oxygen bed in a city hospitals? Our centre then provides a valuable service.
By putting them on oxygen, we are able to buy valuable time for the patients till they find a bed in a hospital,” says Chandra. While the medical oxygen shortage is a huge national crisis, the couple has made special arrangements for it. They have 20 oxygen cylinders, but have arrangements to provide support to two patients from each cylinder; so they are able to provide oxygen to 40 patients at any given time. In addition, they have two oxygen concentrators and through the help of local donors from community, they have ordered another 15 of them which cost Rs 50,000 per piece.
Besides investing some of their own modest savings into the centre, Raju Vyas has appealed for donations through social media. The local community has been supporting them generously. “When the entire country is reeling under the pandemic, we thought we should do something to help people. People are helping us because they realize that we are not here to make money,” says Vyas.
Though it’s barely a few weeks since they started their mission, the couple has generated a fund of goodwill through their committed service. Besides providing free medicine and antibiotics to even walk-in corona patients, the centre now has two ambulances to ferry its patients. In addition, local donors enable the centre to provide healthy and nourishing meals to its patients for free. The government has now decided to use this facility as a vaccination centre.