As the second wave of COVID spread across India in May, CMC staff organised Udhavi (‘help’ in Tamil). We set up phone services for people in Vellore and neighbouring districts offering information, counselling and medical advice to support COVID patients at home. This volunteer team also helped people access hospital services and supplied home care kits (pulse oximeter, thermometer, monitoring sheet, hand sanitizer) and oxygen concentrators. When we found that the local Indian Medical Association was planning a similar helpline we joined forces with them.
Meanwhile CMC’s community units reached out, under the banner of CONNECT, to local people with COVID who were isolating at home. Some of them really needed to go into hospital but, out of necessity or choice, remained at home, cared for by their families.
While most of our home-based patients recovered, Mrs. Lena* sadly expired. Despite his loss, her son said, “We are grateful for the timely care provided to our mother and we are thankful for the effort and concern provided by the CMC team at our home”. With their permission, and to honour Lena, we want to share her story with you.
Mrs Lena was a regular patient of the LCECU. She had survived cancer and had diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. These are all danger signs for COVID. When she was diagnosed with COVID in a Government facility, the family approached LCECU for help. We visited her at home and wanted to send her to hospital immediately. However, she and her family decided they wanted home care only.
Under the CONNECT scheme we gave her the best of care. Regular home visits with daily phone calls allowed us to keep a close eye on her. We provided an oxygen concentrator when she struggled to breathe. Blood tests were taken at home and medicines given. When her condition worsened, a Medicine specialist visited and checked her heart.
Later that night, the family called and told us that Lena had passed away.
On reflection, the team felt that even in hospital Lena wouldn’t have recovered from COVID. The next day Dr. Sushil John went to pay his respects. Many family members personally thanked him and said how much they appreciated spending precious time with her at home towards the end. This would not have happened in a hospital setting.
All these efforts, and all the success stories, were made possible by staff from across CMC working together and the army of donors from India and abroad who graciously gave money and equipment. We are profoundly grateful to each one of you.
CONNECT – CMC Community Outreach Network for Non-hospital Empowerment for Compassionate, Competent COVID Treatment
LCECU – Low Cost Effective Care Unit – an urban health centre for the poorer communities of urban Vellore
* Name changed and consent obtained from the family to use her story and picture