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Healthcare: masked heroes of a different kind-a brunch feature

For 35-year-old Venugopal C, daring storms were a way of life. The only son of a cool household help with money has always had problems; he had to quit school and fought against his chances to become a rickshaw driver in Bengaluru. Twelve years ago he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and had to undergo dialysis. Then, four years ago, he lost his father and left him to take care of his mother.

Thanks to all this, Venugopal is back on its feet. Until the lockdown is announced. Like many other wage earners, the world of Venugopal was turned upside down when it came into force. Only this time, between the loss of income and dependence on dialysis, Venugopal was not sure how to find a way.

With the current lockdown, many of our patients are unable to pay anything. That’s why we’ve started engaging business donors and regular donors and working with Give India on crowdsourcing – Kartik Sriram, Trustee, BKF.

Besides him – and 300 other dialysis patients in Bengaluru – he did exactly that, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Bangalore Kidney Foundation (BKF). BKF was founded in 1979 and pioneered the treatment of kidney disease in Karnataka by offering affordable and high-quality dialysis to economically disadvantaged people (I am thinking of car and van sellers, drivers like Venugopal and people living below the poverty line).

BKF, which is located in the dialysis centre of the Rangadore Memorial Hospital (RMH), has a total of 65 dialysis machines and performs more than 3,000 dialysis procedures per month. This in itself is remarkable, but what sets them apart even more is the many efforts they make to ensure that their patients receive dialysis treatment during the blockade.

Solving main problems on

Mr Sriram, administrator of BKF, explained the seriousness of the situation when he gave information on the number of dialysis tests carried out daily in the first days of closure, which ranged from 120-125 to 80-90. This situation was dangerous because early dialysis can only have harmful consequences; refusing regular treatment further weakens the patient’s immune system and makes him or her even more vulnerable to Covida19.

Fortunately we have good equipment, good service and assistance, we also follow strict hygiene rules and programs to clean the dialysis machines, beds, slopes and environment after each dialysis, Dr. Srilakshmi G, Chief Medical Officer, BKF.

Given the high cost of dialysis – in Bangalore most hospitals would be between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 5,000 for dialysis and generally need three sessions per week – the BKF has started to increase its fundraising activities. It costs us about 1,100 rupees for dialysis, but we charge a maximum of 750 rupees for dialysis for our patients in need; the difference is subsidized. With the current lockdown, many of our patients are unable to pay anything. As a result, we have started to reach out to regular donors and business supporters and are working with Give India on crowdsourcing. The funds collected will be used to support comprehensive kidney care, Mr Kartick said.

It then became necessary to meet the transport needs of patients: While some patients, such as Venugopal, were able to organise their own journey and the journey to the dialysis centre, many patients found themselves in a difficult situation because they only had to use public transport. The photo shows how they estimated the number of patients that had to be transported and divided them into local groups. One of our protectors, Mr. Sundaresh, offered us his van with driver to transport the needy.

Introduction of hygiene protocols

In addition to the above initiatives, the Centre has also sent letters to patients to facilitate their journey. Fortunately, we have good equipment, good maintenance and support, and follow strict hygiene rules and a schedule for cleaning dialysis machines, beds, rails and adjacent areas after each dialysis session. Our support staff is doing a great job to keep us all clean and help us stay safe, said Dr. Srilakshmi G., the center’s Chief Medical Officer.

BKF has a total of 65 dialysis machines and performs more than 3,000 dialyses per month.

Compliance with and awareness of strict hygiene protocols also soothes the patients’ minds. Avinash Putte Gouda, head of dialysis, describes how she tested (and is still testing) all her patients for the symptoms of Covida,19 and collected their travel data and data from all family members who travelled recently. Anyone who had contact with a person on a trip was (was) under observation. In addition, we only admit patients to the centre and ensure that all medical staff are equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Extra mile

In the event that transport and dialysis needs could not be met, the BKF also prepared its views on the treatment of malnutrition, which is a foreseeable consequence of job losses. She has worked with social institutions such as Arpana Seva Samaste and the Lions Club to provide her patients (and in some cases her staff) with food, milk and medicines.

Shivkumaraswamy, a 38-year-old panic cleaner, tells how the center has surpassed its dialysis commitments. Because of the embargo my company cannot function and I have to thank the BKF for providing free rations, injections and supplements in addition to dialysis, he says.

In recognition of the efforts of his colleagues – the BKF team consists of two oil consultants, two general practitioners, 35 medical staff, 15 auxiliaries and five administrative staff, as well as curators and honorary directors – Kartik summarizes when he talks about his greatest asset in these difficult times: that people can be incredibly supportive. We still face a lot of long-term isolation, but we are motivated by the resilience of the human mind. We are sure that Venugopal and Shivkumaraswamy agree.

From 26. April 2020


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