A 10 – member team from Sankara Nethralaya braved the Second Wave and volunteered alongside the doctors and staff of Stanley Government Medical College and Hospital for two weeks.
The New block in Stanley Medical College Hospital (SMCH) in Chennai, along with four other blocks, serving with 1,700 COVID beds, were intimidating yet filled with rays of hope for the locality and beyond.
The second pandemic wave has thrown us many challenges, with our healthcare system struggling to cope. Shortage of oxygen and medications, urgency in vaccine coverage, infodemic that dents the efforts of public health, and undermines the humongous efforts of health care workers are among the challenges. One such challenge is healthcare manpower, which can never be enough in a population such as ours.
Sankara Nethralaya, while going through these challenges with responsibility during the lockdown, responded with eleven of its volunteers, helping the staff of SMCH in various stages of patient care at zero delay rooms, triage wards and IMCU care. The doctors, nurses and social workers in the SN team put forth their skills and knowledge in triaging, helping to treat and manage care for the suffering patients in a small yet significant way, thus, reducing the burden of the hospital staff.
Donning their PPEs everyday from 8 am till 2 pm, the never ending wave of patients were helped at this COVID war zone by our volunteers from 13th May 2021 for two weeks. Effective protocols in place, the hospital staff managed these patients in four shifts. Our brave warriors wished it was possible for them to help in all of the hours but they had to keep human endurance as a reality check.
The volunteering efforts were spearheaded by Dr Suganeswari Ganesan, Senior Consultant, Retina & Oncology Services; Dr Baskaran Mani, Senior Consultant and Deputy Director Glaucoma Services; Dr. Gajendra Kumar Verma, Consultant Community Ophthalmology; Dr Sivaranjani P and Dr Radhika Sriram, Post graduates; Nurse Leela Bai R and Nurse Uma K, Hospital Infection Committee Executives; Kanagaraj and Vinoth kumar B, Ophthalmic Nursing assistants; Arun Kumar, Diabetic Retinopathy Project Manager; and Saravanan M., Multimedia Services.
It is heartening to note that in-kind and cash donations have come in from SN Alumni and other well wishers, seeing the efforts of our volunteers. This is used to get essentials such as portable O2 delivery systems, adult diapers and N95 masks to better equip our staff in the fight against this pandemic.
We wish this scourge recedes to bring us back to normalcy as quickly as possible. However, it is but reality that it will stay for a while and thus there is a need for help in kind as well as in manpower to volunteer in such ‘war’ zones. Let humanity prevail in helping our fellow citizens.