A few months ago, when Amrabad Forest Divisional Officer Rohit Gopidi walked through the forest in Telangana, he noticed that some tribal hamlets in Mannanur village had set up tents in the open fields. These makeshift tents were tiny, set up with tarpaulin and far from houses. On enquiring, a few residents in the region told him that these tents were set up to isolate residents who showed symptoms of COVID-19. Rohit realised the need to set up a proper isolation ward with food, as he found that these tents were not conducive for quarantine.
Around the same time, the Corporate Social Wing (CSR) wing of the Apollo hospital, which had already carried out free medical camps in the area, offered to join hands and support him in setting up a COVID-19 isolation ward. While Rohit Gopidi and his wife Padmini Patlolla began the work to acquire the required permissions, Apollo Hospitals started sending in the required medical equipment and medicines.
Soon, all the required permissions fell in place, and in around three weeks, a 30-bed COVID-19 isolation facility was set up in Mannanur village near Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Telanganaâ€™s Nagarkurnool district. There are around 4,000 people across five villages in Mannanur. The facility, which has been operational since May 25, provides services free of cost. Patients here are provided the required care, medicines and nutritious food. The facility has one doctor, four nurses and six volunteers.
Rohit Gopidi and his wife Padmini Patlolla
An image taken inside the COVID-19 isolation facility
Speaking to TNM, the IFS officer said, â€śThe tents in the fields were hot and I wasnâ€™t sure if they were able to access proper food. The people in the villages here live in small houses without interior walls. Around eight to 10 members live in one house. They lack basic facilities. Since they were self-isolating anyway, I was sure if good food and a place were provided, they would utilise the facility.â€ť
While the permissions, equipment and medicines came by easily, zeroing down on the location and finding the staff was a difficult task. After poring over multiple options, they finally zeroed in on a school to set up the isolation ward.
The next challenge we encountered was that no medical staff was willing to work at the isolation facility. â€śWe finally managed to recruit two nurses and a doctor from Achampet (in Nagarkurnool district), in addition to the nurses deputed by Apollo Hospitals. The forest department staff helped in cleaning the school and setting up the facility,â€ť said Padmini, who is an engineer by qualification and played an instrumental role in setting up the isolation facility.
The tents set up in the fields in Appaipally village
While the corporate hospital sent the oxygen concentrators, emergency beds, medicines, masks and sanitisers, among others, they also sponsored the other requirements at the isolation facility. â€śWe have all the required equipment to treat patients with mild symptoms. We also have an ambulance. Apart from the doctors from the region, we also have two to three doctors, who are available on video call for consultation. If the oxygen saturation levels fall, the patients are directed to the nearest hospital, which is around half an hour away,â€ť shared Padmini.
The facility has received warm responses from the residents, said Rohit. â€śGenerally, there is a tendency among the residents to avoid going to a hospital for treatment, but once they realised that a popular hospital is associated and good food is being provided, they have been coming forward to avail the free facility,â€ť said Rohit.