At a time when oxygen support is treated as one of the most effective weapons to fight the ‘invisible’ enemy, a group of US and Kolkata based organizations have come together to donate oxygen concentrators and provide medical consultations to those affected with COVID-19.
A team of five organizations: MUKTI, Rural Health Care Foundation (RHCF), Bay Area Prabasi, Kolkata Foundation and Kolkata Gives have joined hands to form the Breathe Consortium to help West Bengal tide over this health crisis through Project Breathe. While MUKTI, RHCF and Kolkata Gives are based in Kolkata, Bay Area Prabasi and Kolkata Foundation are Bengali associations based in the US.
We are all closely connected with Bengal. The current situation needed us to get on the ground immediately with urgency. We are providing oxygen concentrators to moderately affected patients.
The operations at Kolkata and some villages in West Bengal are being taken care of by MUKTI and RHCF. The Hello Beta platform which was created and conceptualized by MUKTI during the first wave of the pandemic last year is being used for coordinating with the requests.
How it works
A patient in need of an oxygen concentrator can request for the service by filling up the Oxygen Concentrator Request Form which can be accessed through the Hello Beta portal. Patients need to fill in their medical information, information about the person to whom the concentrator has to be delivered and the location.
On receipt of a request a volunteer from the call center calls the primary contact of the patient for verification. However, having a doctor’s prescription is mandatory. Since RHCP is a healthcare organization we give importance to doctor’s prescriptions. Everyone would not require concentrators and not everyone may benefit from it. There may be more critically ill patients who might need cylinders. So we look into what kind of patients are coming in and if they actually require it.
When a device is allocated to a patient, the contact person is notified to collect it from a designated warehouse within a span of three hours after verifying his or her identity.
The oxygen concentrator is usually allocated to the patient for a week. If there is a need for extension the patient needs to inform the call center along with the doctor’s prescription. However, it is strongly recommended not to use the oxygen concentrator for more than a week.
After a week the device has to be returned by dropping it off at a designated location. Once it is returned the concentrator is sanitized and allotted to the next patient. Once the device is returned without any damage the deposit money is returned within a week. It is recommended to return the oxygen concentrator at the earliest so that more patients can be served. We intend to help at least two to three patients every month with the devices we have secured.
The service is not for critically ill patients or those who need ICU care or oxygen cylinders but for those who need oxygen therapy in moderate form, which is crucial for their treatment and prevents them from getting worse thus further straining the healthcare system.
Since no one is certain when we would be able to tide over this health crisis and come back to normal life, organizations battling the pandemic on the ground need to be ready all the time. When it comes to crisis response, things can change a lot. As an organization we need to be flexible and dynamic on the field. We would change our stance according to the way the crisis unfolds.
RHCF being a healthcare NGO is armed with an excellent team of doctors and medical professionals who give timely and authentic advice. In the beginning we thought low flow concentrators would be enough. However, doctors advised that at this point the kind of patients we are having would require high flow concentrators. So we started changing our strategy and tried to secure both.
Response from patients
Project Breathe has been able to serve 516 patients so far and the Breathe Consortium has received around 4622 requests till date.
Project Breathe is focused on meeting the demands of Kolkata and Howrah as of now. Though there is a rise in cases in rural areas as well, the number of cases in Kolkata and Howrah is overwhelming. So we are addressing their needs first. Also, the situation is very stressful and we need many concentrators. If anyone would like to contribute or volunteer with us we would be grateful.