Dr Dhaval Ghelani, an Intensive Care Unit specialist at Blacktown Hospital, wasn’t going to let distance, international border closures or his only family’s devastation hinder him from helping step up the fight against COVID-19 in India.
“These doctors are putting their lives and their family’s lives at risk by treating seriously unwell COVID patients – the least I can do from here is help them in any way I can,” Dr Ghelani said.
Using his medical expertise and compassion, Dr Ghelani helped a not for profit organisation, Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur Australia (SRMDA), set up a COVID-19 Health Centre in India in just 10 days.
“The dedication, enthusiasm and commitment from staff – a willingness to learn in the most difficult of circumstances – has been inspiring,” said Dr Ghelani who has been training the medical staff via Zoom meetings.
In these telehealth settings, he has been able to teach hospital staff in India they skills they need – such as how to navigate the ventilatory and non-invasive ventilation (NIV) management of COVID-19 patients.
The hospital was conceived out of a rundown rehabilitation facility and is situated in a small town, Dharampur in Gujarat State, Western India.
Built in a poor rural area which has been badly ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital has been running at 100 per cent occupancy since.
Installed with a piped oxygen supply, ventilators, haemodynamic monitors, bilevel positive airway pressure machines (BPAP) and an ICU ward, this hospital has been able to bring first class medical care to the inhabitants of 238 nearby villages.
Staffed by a physician, two anaesthetists, seven junior medical officers (JMOs) and nursing staff, the hospital treated 1,500 patients with COVID-19 within a week of opening.
“One of the preconditions for hiring new doctors was making sure they were vaccinated. Doctor safety has been at the heart of this work,” said Dr Ghelani whose own family has been impacted by COVID-19 with his uncle dying from the disease.
“Being the only doctor in the entire family has been a challenge. I have been receiving messages from family and friends asking for support and advice.”
With such a high demand for life saving healthcare, a second facility was established nearby to treat patients with mild to severe COVID symptoms.
With the help of Dr Ghelani, the hospital staff are also involved in a community outreach program, visiting the homes of villagers to screen them for COVID-19, with positive cases referred to either facility for quarantine and monitoring.
It’s been devastating hearing the stories from the on the ground; the statistics are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr Ghelani.
“Families are being left in limbo because of COVID-19 with many women are losing their husbands to this wicked virus.
“There have been vocational courses set up to provide professional cooking or sewing skills and have allowed women to be employed by local industries.”
For more information head to https://www.srloveandcare.org/coronavirus-relief-initiatives-australia
Western Sydney stands in solidarity with our colleagues, friends, family and communities affected by the COVID-19 situation in India.
Support is available to help you navigate this difficult time and we encourage you to check in with yourself and loved ones.
If you’d like someone to talk to please reach out to the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.
The Mental Health Line is a state-wide 24-hour mental health telephone access service.
Anyone with a mental health issue can use the Mental Health Line to speak with a mental health professional and be directed to the right care for them.
A full list of mental health services and support contacts are available here.
Translated mental health resources are available here.