NEW DELHI: Spike in coronavirus cases has forced many group housing societies across Delhi NCR to take the driver’s seat and handle the crisis. Many self-motivated residents have become social workers and formed groups for catering to multiple daily needs related to medical supply, food, vaccination registration and other emergency helpline numbers.
Residents have not only made social media pages but also created 24/7 helpline Whatsapp and Telegram groups to provide critical information to all those in need. Sometimes they also Tweet or re-Tweet on important issues to local authorities for quick resolution.
In fact, many Non-Residents Indians (NRIs) living abroad are worried about their elderly parents and relatives and constantly calling these residents associations and local social help groups to assist their family members and friends in India.
Deepti Sharma, a social worker based out of Delhi NCR, has started WhatsApp and Telegram groups after getting panic calls from a lot of NRIs friends who asked her to help their parents and friends get hospital beds and essential medical supplies.
“I was shocked to see so many people in panic not just in India but abroad as well for hospital beds. Many housing societies where elderly are living alone or without any help have no support system in this situation. People from US, UK, New Zealand and other countries are calling us for help. So, I decided to assist people and I kept calling hospitals, vendors and doctors for beds and medical supplies availability. Many group housing societies and associations have been calling for beds, so I decided to bring them all on one platform and help each others. Some NRIs calling from abroad and assisting their families and friends with local volunteers and social workers,” explains Sharma who is now managing a COVID-19 helpline groups with nearly 2,000 people from across Delhi NCR.
Out of panic, some group housing societies have even setup beds with oxygen cylinders to help those in need. However, there is no clear-cut government guidelines on such setup as this is not safe in absence of trained medical staff or doctors.
Sharma explained, “I will not suggest anyone to set up oxygen beds in societies who does not know about handling oxygen cylinders. It has to be done under the supervision of medical staff, nurse or doctor. One must know the right flow of oxygen depending on the patient’s condition. So if you need beds do reach out to social workers and residents groups to assist you. Many doctors and hospitals are in touch and updating us.”
Considering the importance of these volunteer groups, many doctors have also started reaching out to these people to help out in searching of availability of beds for critical patients across all hospitals in Delhi NCR.
Dr. TK Kaushik, president AOA, Gaur City-1, North Avenue, says, “We are in constant touch with the local authority and police. Due to our experience last year, we had procured some oxygen cylinders with beds which are kept on standby to handle any emergency in the society. We are also in touch with local hospitals and doctors who are helping us in case of necessity. Our residents are also helping people in nearby societies.”
What does the law say?
Suvigya Awasthy, associate partner, PSL Advocates & Solicitors explains, “In view of a steady rise in Covid-19 cases, several residential complexes and housing societies are setting up their own isolation facilities with beds and oxygen cylinders. Last year, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had released guidelines for setting up isolation facilities in gated community and non-government establishments. The guidelines permit the establish their own community-based isolation facilities, equipped with oxygen cylinders beds provided they follow the standard operating process (SOPs) to ensure optimum functioning of such isolation facilities.”
In this emergency times, society groups are coming very handy to support and disseminate information for people in need. Senior citizens and those who are critically ill are getting support through these volunteer groups at a time when health infrastructure is in distress.