IIT KGP Lends Support to COVID Quarantine

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The super-specialty hospital of IIT Kharagpur, to be named after Dr. B C Roy, has become COVID Quarantine Centre for Inter-state Travelers to West Bengal

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IIT Kharagpur’s super-specialty hospital has been busy for the past few weeks. While the facility is yet to be operationalized, who are these people walking into the hospital?

About a month back, with the announcement of the lockdown, a large influx of people moved to the borders of Bengal from various southern states with medical documents. They were patients and their families returning from Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vellore after undergoing treatment or health check-ups. As per hygiene and safety protocols they were scheduled to be tested for COVID. But testing about 300 people would have taken extensive facilitation for the local state administration. Here is where IIT Kharagpur came to the rescue. About 9200 sq.m. area spread over two floors of the superspecialty hospital of IIT Kharagpur was made available to the district administration of Paschim Medinipur to be used as a quarantine facility for these passerbys.

The phase I of the IIT Kharagpur super specialty hospital was scheduled to start its outpatient department in June-July. Following this, the phase with 400 beds was planned to be extended with the launch of inpatient specialties encompassing Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Orthopaedics, Medical & Surgical Gastroenterology, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Urology and Nephrology. The phase II was scheduled at a later stage with an additional 350 beds and Comprehensive Cancer Care, Radiology etc.

Registrar Prof. Bhrigu Nath Singh said, “We were ready with the structural construction though the handover from the construction company L&T was not taken due to some LAN, integration of modular OTs and few service lifts related works which are going on and expected to be completed shortly after lockdown period is over. Most of the medical equipment for OPD was already procured, hiring of medical doctors/visiting consultants/staff was going on since last year, advertisements were already placed for Medical Superintendent and Chief Administrative Officer.”

Due to COVID lockdown the plan had to be stalled. The work can now be resumed only after the situation normalizes following a revised schedule with the OPD launch expected to be postponed until the end of this year. 

Prof. Virendra Kumar Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur who has been busy reaching out to campus residents and students in small groups shared his delight to have been able to facilitate this initiative.

“The upcoming hospital is rightly being used to serve its cause towards the healthcare of the people even before its launch. We received a request from the office of the District Magistrate about three weeks back and immediately communicated our agreement towards it. We are in contact with district administration and the local community and ready to offer necessary help within our capacity,” he said.

What made the hospital appropriate for COVID quarantine?

Vaibhav Chaudhary, IAS, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Kharagpur said, “We had about 300 people coming in after the lockdown was implemented and they were stuck at the border as they could not travel further into the state without being tested for COVID. While we could test 50 samples in a day, we needed a facility to accommodate the others. The hospital facility was well suited for the purpose with the huge available area, built-in structure, adequate toilets, electricity. Even the elevators were put into operation.”

He further remarked, “the location of the hospital was a vantage point as it is away from inhabited rural areas due to which we could avoid any speculation among the local community regarding accommodating these people.” 

Chaudhary confirmed building temporary wooden compartments to ensure social distancing within the allocated areas. The district administration had also arranged for meals and other necessary items for those accommodated in this facility.

“We shall continue to use the facility for further batches of people coming in for reasons as considered acceptable to the state administration,” he added.

Left with a new hope

This initiative inadvertently has given a preview of IIT Kharagpur’s superspecialty hospital to the people for the first time. Those who were quarantined at the facility were not only overwhelmed witnessing the facility but also left with the hope that they might just find the answer to their prayer for best-in-class healthcare well within their reach and budget. Many of them, who are native of various remote areas in the districts of southern West Bengal, have to frequent hospitals elsewhere in India. Apart from the financial burden the journey itself takes a toll on their health. They are now pinning their hope that this hospital would become the one-stop facility for their healthcare needs.

And the corona war continues

The Indian Air Force on Sunday (May 3, 2020) held flypast and showered flowers at the Institute’s medical facility to salute the corona warriors.

The Institute apart from delving in R&D to fight COVID-19 is also engaging in social outreach to help large sections of people. Last month IIT Kharagpur also launched an initiative to support about 10000 people around the campus who are dependent on the campus for their livelihood through various temporary jobs. The alumni of the Institute are donating funds generously to sustain these people who are affected by the COVID-19 lockdown for a few months through supply of food and essential items and PPEs. The Institute has also contributed Rs. 1 crore to the PM Cares fund raised from employees and other sources. A disinfection tunnel for inbound vehicles and good carriers has also been built coupled with WHO approved sanitization facilities such as hand wash, appropriate use of PPEs.

By Poulami Mondal

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