Transforming Frustration into Celebration – The saga of THANE COVID HOSPITAL

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In a pandemic situation there are several other woes. One cannot get the best for the purpose. One has to pick and choose the best from the available Resources. That required instilling confidence in the workforce and continuously motivating the team so that they are sincere to the core. Everyone is sold on this axiom: when the going gets tough, the toughest gets going. Leading by example is the best way to lead people and I resorted to it. The grit, tenacity and the real intrinsic character is revealed in tough situations like this, and I am happy that we could triumph as a team which is invincible and indomitable.

Is it possible to create a ground plus 10-storey, 1000-bed Covid hospital in a matter of 29 days flat and make it operational?  The Thane Municipal Corporation, under the dynamic leadership of Deputy Commissioner Vishwanath Kelkar has gone on record of having achieved this and more against all odds akin to the turbulent time. The Thane Covid Hospital has the best of amenities for Covid medical care is an understatement. What needs and deserves to be flogged is the patient-friendly work culture and behaviour of the entire institution to alleviate the woes of the patients and do everything to see that they are cured fast and go home with a smile. In an exclusive interview with Industrial Health & Safety Review, the Deputy Commissioner finds time to explain how his hospital is different from others and how he has managed to transform ‘frustration into celebration’.  Excerpts:

Q. THANE COVID HOSPITAL is a dream come true for the citizens of this great city. What was kick-started last year with bear minimum amenities has grown into a giant Covid Medical Center in a matter of a few months. Could you tell us something about its metamorphosis and the challenges you had to face in its growth phase?

Thane Covid Hospital was nestled in the Global Impact Hub in the heart of the city. The Hub is a ground plus 10-storey, of which the ground floor lobby and first floor only were usable in May 2020. Now what we have is a 226 ICU beds, 550 Oxygen beds, 10 Dialysis beds, 10 Emergency beds, 204 General beds spread across all eleven floors.

The pandemic and lockdown situation took everyone unawares and unprepared

A hospital of this magnitude cannot function without the right people, professionals and equipment.

That was a time when the attendance in the Government offices had dipped to as low as 2 %. This made intra and inter-departmental coordination, decision-making and implementation extremely difficult

The concept of establishing a 1000-plus bed hospital was entirely new to the Administration. The disease itself was new to the medical field and the line of treatment was not clear.

Covid-19 was new to the medical field and even the line of treatment was not clear.

Due to Corona scare even Senior Doctors were hesitant to render service. Getting manpower to establish and run the hospital was a challenge. It was a time when the City, District and State borders were sealed and therefore obtaining the materials, equipments and instruments was a herculean task.

The builders’ organization MCHI Thane was taken into confidence. They were requested to raise CSR funds in MCHI and to convert the Global Impact Hub into Thane Covid Hospital. The expertise, resources and quick decision-making of the builders’ organisation enabled establishment of the hospital in just 29 days! Managements of big Private Hospitals were consulted for design of the infrastructure, assessment of required equipment, consumables and manpower, etc.
The major departments like housekeeping, pathology, laundry, catering and medical manpower supply were out-sourced. The coordination and management was kept with the Administration.

In a pandemic situation there are several other woes. One cannot get the best for the purpose. One has to pick and choose the best from the available Resources. That required instilling confidence in the workforce and continuously motivating the team so that they are sincere to the core. Everyone is sold on this axiom: when the going gets tough, the toughest gets going. Leading by example is the best way to lead people and I resorted to it. The grit, tenacity and the real intrinsic character is revealed in tough situations like this, and I am happy that we could triumph as a team which is invincible and indomitable.

Q. When people are prejudiced, scornful and skeptical about the functioning of Government offices and municipal facilities, was there a need for you to erase the impressions and rebuild a new image?

No special efforts were taken for this. The medical staff is trained to be polite, courteous and humane. A supervisory hierarchy has been established to oversee medical manpower and treatment. A very high standard of overall cleanliness and catering food service is maintained. Customer orientation was writ large everywhere. The patients are treated as guests rather than patients. The cured patients and their relatives keep expressing their satisfaction about the hospital and our services through social media. The experiences and opinions expressed on social media by the beneficiaries have brought glory and respect to the Thane Covid Hospital. We had many patients who preferred this hospital over private hospitals though they were equipped with insurance cover.

Q. When a patient tests positive, he gets stressed and disdainful although the staff and medical facilities at your end are excellent. In such a situation, how do you handle him to facilitate keep his cool and remain optimistic and relaxed?

We know that the immunity will be high only when the frame of mind of the patient is positive. Therefore we have based our functioning on the theme “Transforming frustration to celebration”.

The Security personnel welcome the patients with the words “Your coming here is the best decision. You will now be cured very soon. Till the patient reaches the ward he hears this at least 50 times that he will be cured and will go home healthy.

Every day I take rounds of the wards and speak with patients. I try to tell them Corona is a weak virus and within two/three days you shall be discharged to go home.

We have created a homely atmosphere in the hospital. We have celebrated almost all festivals in the hospital from Tulasi Vivah to Ganesh Utsav and Holi. We organize entertainment programs by inviting professionals. The birthdays of the patients are celebrated in the hospital. Once we got a chance to celebrate the marriage anniversary of a patient couple too.

Nothing is perfunctory or ostentatious. Everything comes from the bottom of the heart.

Q. Any memorabilia pertaining to cured patients from your hospital?

There many feedbacks and memories of patients going home with a smile, but let me brief you about a few which are striking:

  1. I recollect a very senior female patient who was brought on ventilators. Her medical condition was very poor. The next day on my rounds when I met her I just told her “Swami (GOD) is with you …don’t worry, you will be cured and will return home soon. Then on she responded well to the treatment and after 27 days she came out of ICU. Having tears in her eyes she had said to me that “I witnessed swami (GOD ) through your presence.”
  2. It was a very happy moment when the female ward in the Hospital was named and painted as “ Maher” ( Maidan House ) by the female Patients. We celebrated a Diwali Mela for our cured female patients which was attended by 300 plus female patients. I am happy to tell you that they had brought Diwali sweets for the patients.
  3. We had organized a blood donation camp on 3rd January 2021 of the cured patients. As many as 514 persons donated blood.
  4. Our high standard of Service has generated immense trust in the masses and relatives of financially well-off patients. Many have donated in kind to the hospital generously.

Q. What is the message you would like to convey to the citizens considering the current pandemic situation?

Don’t be scared, but be cautious and alert.

Social distancing, mask, sanitization and vaccination are the simple ways to keep the pandemic at bay. In case one gets infected, one should take care that he or she does not spread it further and take timely medication.

Q. Would you like to say something about the vaccination drive going on in your hospital?

At Thane Covid Hospital we have created a waiting area for more than 500 people at a time. We have coupon system. We have trained 52 nurses for vaccination and we have developed capability to vaccinate 2000 plus persons in six hours.

We have wheel chair facility, drinking water facility, clean toilets, and of course selfie and photo points too.

I am happy to share with you that we had a special vaccination drive for our senior citizens from old age homes.
We have a long way to go but am happy to share at this moment that we have vaccinated more than 45,000 beneficiaries till now at our facility.

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