Aswin Kunjumon and Rekha, volunteers at a COVID-19 domiciliary care centre at Punnapra in Alappuzha district, made news on Friday when they took a COVID-19 patient on a bike to a nearby private hospital. Wearing full PPE kits, they did not hesitate to take the patient to the hospital when they got to know that the ambulance would take some time to reach them.
The duo was informed about the deteriorating condition of the patient by another inmate of the centre. Domiciliary care centres are set up by the local bodies in Kerala for those who don't have the facility to be in isolation at homes, for asymptomatic patients. Doctors’ services are not available at these centres and if a person’s condition deteriorates, they would need to be shifted to a hospital.
In this case, it was a 36-year-old male patient. "We called the ambulance, but we were told that it would take time at least 15 minutes to reach. Hence, we decided to take him on the bike," Rekha told TNM. The 22-year-old had been a COVID-19 volunteer during the period of the first wave of the pandemic too.
Fortunately, they already had PPE kits, which were provided to them by the Health Department as they were volunteering at the centre. They shifted the patient to a private hospital as it was the nearest to them. The patient is stable now.
Rekha is a native of Kuthirappally in the district, and is also part of the Fire Rescue Civil Defence, a volunteer force. Aswin (23) is a native of Punnapra.
While many have lauded the youngsters for acting quickly, District Collector A Alexander has directed District Medical Officer (DMO) L Anithakumari to probe why a patient had to be transported on a motorbike. The DMO has submitted a report to the Collector.
"The patient developed uneasiness in the morning. The two people then shifted him to a private hospital rather than communicating with the Health Department. They informed neither the panchayat (under which the centre is functioning) nor the Health Department nor the control room about it. They might have shifted him in a hurry to save time," the DMO told TNM.
The Health Department was informed about the patient by the private hospital he was admitted to. "He was then shifted to the General Hospital and his condition is stable," the DMO added.