Dr Santhosh GS has been to crisis-hit zones many times before: be it the calamity-hit Nepal or the Ebola-hit West Africa. He also headed the team to set up an advanced hospital for COVID-19 care in the northern-most district of Kasaragod, when the district, with less advanced health care facilities in Kerala, had been grappling with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state. And now, Dr Santhosh, along with Dr Sajeesh, has left for Mumbai on Friday, May 29. Dr Santhosh, an orthopedist, is the deputy superintendent of the Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, while Dr Sajeesh is an anaesthetist at SP Fort hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.
Maharashtra had requested Kerala the service of specialist doctors and trained nurses for the management of COVID-19 patients. Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. The state has so far recorded 1,982 deaths.
The two doctors are travelling to Maharashtra by flight via Kochi. The team has to revamp the functioning of the hospital in Mumbai's Mahalakshmi, which solely treats COVID-19 patients.
"First, the team has to train the health workers there. Second, a structural arrangement is needed for the functioning of the hospital, in almost everything, right from the admission to the discharge of patients. We also need to segregate buffer zones and patients' area. Also, the functioning of the hospital units like X-rays, ECGs and labs have to be revamped," Dr Santhosh told TNM.
A team of around 50 doctors and 100 nurses from the state will join Dr Santhosh and Sajeesh on Sunday or Monday.
The registration of doctors, required for working in another state, has been completed. "Now, their accommodation and travel have to be coordinated," Dr Santhosh said. In the letter to the state, the Maharashtra government had offered to arrange travel and accommodation for the doctors.
Dr Santhosh is the South Asian Vice -President of the forum of doctors — Doctors without Borders. He has been to 45 countries in the last 20 years, as a part of the team of health professionals who travelled to across the globe sans borders to provide medical care for people in the time of epidemic transmission, natural calamities or other crisis like war.
He had been to South Sudan, Komur, Syria, Libya, Iran and Afghanistan.
This time, however, the fight is different, as his own country is grappling with the same pandemic the whole world is fighting against.
"But Kerala is well-equipped, much different from other states. We had prepared the protocol back in January. Unlike Ebola or Nipah, in the case of coronavirus, it's community transmission we need to watch out for. The hospitals in Maharashtra are crowded and patients getting admitted in huge numbers. There is a dearth of human resources to deal with the situation. Hence, human resources should be managed so that they do not get infected or have to be sent on quarantine," he says.