A bus that stands round the clock outside the admission counter of Nilratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital is allowing Covid patients to breathe easy, literally.
The bus is one of five vehicles deployed in an oxygen-on-wheels initiative of Jain International Trade Organisation (Jito), a non-profit body of the Jain community.
While the bus at NRS was the first, the four have since been posted at RG Kar, Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, Chittaranjan seva Sadan and SSKM hospital.
The 32-seaters have been equipped with four oxygen concentrators, each capable of generating five litres per minute. The buses are also equipped with lights, fans and mobile charging points. The seats have been partially modified to allow comfortable seating. The electricity required to run the machines is being drawn from the hospitals.
“In this pandemic, when oxygen is in short supply, economically deprived patients are facing an even bigger challenge. On May 9, one of our members, Sheetal Dugar came up with the idea of fitting buses with oxygen concentrators to help them,” said Bhaven Kamdar, the secretary of Jito. The 15-year-old organisation has so far been involved in economic empowerment and educational initiatives.
Dugar, he pointed out, was the managing trustee of Sri SL Dugar Charitable Trust which runs The Aryans School in Kamarhati. With classes happening online, the school’s fleet of buses has been idle for months.
The proposal was sent to the health department on May 10. “The clearance came within barely four hours. We were directed to connect with NRS hospital,” Kamdar said. It took the rest of the day to refit the bus. The day after, it was taken to the hospital and handed over for inspection.
All buses have been fitted with CCTV cameras. “That way, the doctors can remotely monitor the patients in the bus over an app on their mobile phones and issue instructions to the technician present on site,” Kamdar said.
NRS hospital superintendent Dr Indira Dey is all praise for the initiative. “Covid patients come chiefly with complaints of breathing trouble. During the admission process, allocation of beds takes time. During that period, one has to wait. We are making patients, whose oxygen levels have started dipping, wait in the bus on oxygen support. The bus is also coming to use if the patient has to be transferred from a ward in one building of NRS to the other or taken to the Covid ward at R. Ahmed Dental College across the road,” Dey said.
The use of the buses is in the hands of the health department. “The doctors at each hospital will recommend which patients would need immediate support,” Kamdar pointed out.
Another bus will be deployed at MR Bangur Hospital from Saturday.
“The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has requested us for oxygen concentrators for its safe homes which we have agreed to provide,” he added.