Working with a professor, a Worcester, Mass. hospital, and Indian pals and colleagues, two college students assist safe desperately wanted oxygen concentrators for COVID-19 sufferers to make use of at dwelling
June 3, 2021 – As COVID-19 has surged in India, killing 1000’s and sending 1000’s extra to overcrowded hospitals, demand has shot up for oxygen concentrators—transportable gadgets that may assist sufferers breathe at dwelling. However the gadgets have been in brief provide throughout the pandemic.
Two Harvard T.H. Chan Faculty of Public Well being grasp of public well being college students from India, distressed on the state of affairs, labored with one in all their professors, a hospital in Worcester, Mass., and Indian pals and colleagues to assist ship 39 oxygen concentrators to their dwelling nation. The gadgets arrived in Delhi on Could 17 after two weeks of pressing emails, telephone calls, and coordination.
“We simply wished to assist folks,” mentioned Deepak Sahu, MPH ’21, a well being care administration scholar and a companion at well being care consulting agency Alira Well being, who has been engaged on the facet since late April to help the Indian authorities in securing concentrators and different well being care tools in its efforts to battle the pandemic. Sahu helped prepare the cargo with fellow scholar Amrutha Denduluri, MPH ’21, whom he’d met in a category at Harvard Enterprise Faculty.
Denduluri, who will quickly start a residency in household medication on the College of Arkansas in Little Rock, had been conducting telehealth consultations with COVID-19 sufferers in India since late April, as a part of a volunteer effort amongst Indian docs all over the world to supply fundamental recommendation on delicate COVID signs, preventive methods, and home-based care. “The target was to assist ease the anxiousness that was increase among the many public about COVID, to encourage folks to get vaccines, and to debate and unfold appropriate data for questions equivalent to ‘when to go to a hospital’ or ‘what are regular oxygen saturation ranges,’ and so forth,” Denduluri mentioned.
“I used to be advising a number of sufferers every single day on the telephone, and it hit me that there needs to be one thing extra we will do,” she defined. “The issue in India is big. They want oxygen concentrators, ventilators, ICU [intensive care unit] beds, PPE [personal protective equipment]. Once I talked to Deepak about it, he was very happy to see if there have been tangible methods we might assist.”
Sahu had already been profitable at securing some concentrators and different provides, together with ventilators, oximeters, and masks, from a number of U.S. hospitals and producers. However concentrators—sorely wanted in India, significantly in rural areas—have been laborious to seek out. “We realized that distributors didn’t have concentrators of their stock, as a result of previous to the Indian disaster there was the Brazilian disaster, and the South American disaster, and so forth, so the distributors had a backlog of 4 to 5 months,” he mentioned. That meant the one strategy to get the gadgets was to gather them from medical amenities that had some to spare.
Sahu and Denduluri started reaching out to their contacts to see if anybody had a lead on the place to get concentrators. A kind of folks was Richard Siegrist, senior lecturer on well being care administration and director of the grasp in well being care administration (MHCM) and Harvard DrPH packages at Harvard Chan Faculty, who had been a professor of theirs. Siegrist can also be chair of the board of trustees at Worcester’s UMass Memorial Well being Care (UMMHC), and he helped join Sahu and Denduluri along with his contacts there. Amongst them was UMMHC CEO Eric Dickson, himself a graduate of Harvard Chan’s MHCM program and likewise a former scholar of Siegrist’s.
It turned out that UMMHC did have some oxygen concentrators that weren’t getting used. They have been saved at a subject hospital for COVID-19 sufferers—established in April 2020 in an enviornment and conference heart complicated in Worcester—that was being decommissioned.
Though concentrators usually value as a lot $3,000 or $4,000, Dickson and the UMMHC workforce supplied them for less than $500 every. “UMass was very form,” mentioned Sahu. Funds for the concentrators got here from Deserving Causes India Basis, a nonprofit targeted on catastrophe aid in India.
Sahu, Denduluri, and different pals and colleagues discovered customs necessities, delivery logistics, packaging, and different points. The trouble wasn’t with out hiccups: The U.S. journey ban on India, issued April 30, delayed the cargo, and it took two weeks to clear all of the hurdles. Sahu labored with Vikram Pagaria, MPH ’20, deputy secretary of India’s ministry of finance, in arranging the transport. On Could 18, Pagaria posted on LinkedIn, “We dreamt that these OCs will come to India and at this time after 13 days, the dream has come true. The OCs have been shipped on Could 12 from MA and reached India on Could 17. It’s so satisfying to have the ability to carry these OCs to India!”
Siegrist praised Sahu’s and Denduluri’s efforts. “I’m deeply impressed with what Deepak and Amrutha have been in a position to perform in addressing a humanitarian disaster in actual time,” he mentioned. “They recognized what they may do to assist after which leveraged their contacts and public well being expertise to actually save lives in rural India by their concerted efforts.”
For Sahu and Denduluri, the work will proceed. The workforce is at the moment amassing provides from Southcoast Hospitals Group (two ventilators), Tufts Medical Heart (700+ KN95 masks), and Baystate Well being (600 oximeters), amongst different efforts.
“We are going to maintain assembly with as many individuals as attainable within the coming weeks to see how else we may also help,” mentioned Denduluri. She added, “That is such a optimistic factor that occurred, and I’m simply blissful to be a part of it.”
– Karen Feldscher
Picture at high courtesy Deepak Sahu