Kerala joins Mumbai doctors to help win COVID-19 fight

Updated: May 31, 2020, 06:52 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Special team of medicos led by Dr Santosh Kumar from Thiruvantapuram will assist doctors at Seven Hills hospital; all docs have volunteered for the job

Dr Santosh Kumar (in yellow shirt) joined the team of doctors at Seven Hills on Saturday
Dr Santosh Kumar (in yellow shirt) joined the team of doctors at Seven Hills on Saturday

A team of medicos, including nurses, from Kerala, will be assisting the existing team of doctors fighting COVID-19 cases at Seven Hills Hospital, starting Monday.

Interestingly, the entire team from Kerala has taken up the task voluntarily, as the Kerala government has only granted permission to the team lead, Dr Santosh Kumar, deputy superintendent, Thiruvantapuram Medical College, to visit Mumbai. Dr Kumar, who is also the associate professor of orthopaedic at the same medical college, had set up a 200-bed COVID-19 special ward in Kasaragod, Kerala in April, within a short period of time.

The development comes after Dr TP Lahane, Director Medical Education and Research, who is also the nodal officer for COVID-19, had written a letter to KK Shailaja, Minister Health and Social Welfare, Kerala, requesting them to send experienced doctors and trained nurses for management of patients in Mumbai.

Migrants workers and their families trying to catch a train from CSMT on Saturday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Migrants workers and their families trying to catch a train from CSMT on Saturday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The idea was to have the team from Kerala help in setting up the 600-bed COVID unit at Mahalaxmi Race Course, which will start functioning from Wednesday. However, on arrival of two members from the team on Saturday, and post discussion with Dr Lahane, it was decided that Seven Hills would be a better set-up and closer to their place of lodging, which is at a private luxury hotel on the Sahar Airport Road, Andheri East.

Highly-placed officials within the health ministry of the Kerala government told mid-day that while they had received the letter from Dr Lahane, they could not officially send any team to Mumbai. "We only gave permission to Dr Santosh Kumar. The number of COVID cases is on the rise in Kerala too, as people are returning from different states, as well as the Gulf. Our government doctors are already preoccupied handling fresh COVID cases," said the officer, who wished to remain anonymous.
On Saturday, the number of positive cases in Kerala had gone up by 58, taking the total number to 635.

Dr Lahane, however, said that it was Dr Kumar, who expressed his desire to provide assistance to Maharashtra government. "We then extended an official invitation to him," he said.

Out of 50 doctors, 23 will be coming on Monday, which will include six intensivists and physicians. The arrival of 80 trained nurses have also confirmed. "The remaining 27 doctors and nurses will be arriving by Thursday or Friday. All of them will be put in the same hotel near the airport. We are providing for their transportation, lodging and boarding. They will be insured for R50 lakh each," said Dr Lahane.

The doctors are being hired for a temporary period of two months. While the MBBS doctors will be paid R80,000 per month, MS/MD or specialised doctors will be paid R2 lakh per month, and trained nursing staff will be given a salary of R30,000 per month.

When asked why the government had decided to send them to Seven Hills, Dr Lahane said, "Seven Hills is a 1,000-bed COVID hospital with 100 beds in the ICU. We are increasing the ICU beds to 200, and the team from Kerala will be helping us with this." Dr Kumar, who has already arrived in the city, said that he had already visited Seven Hills and was impressed with the services being provided by the team of doctors. "The number of positive cases in Mumbai has been increasing daily. We are here to only provide assistance to the existing team and won't be introducing any new line of treatment."

Dr Kumar said that his team will be coming from different districts of Kerala. "Most of them are MBBS graduates, and some are specialised intensivists, pulmonologists and anaesthetists like Dr Sajeesh Gopalan, who is attached to SP Fort hospital in Thiruvanatapuram and has joined me in Mumbai already. Majority of them have one to five years of work experience and some are pursuing their post-graduation courses."

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