As govt & RWA fail, residents step in

COVID-19 Governance Health

Deliver meals and medical aid to Covid patients.

As the government and the residents’ welfare association (RWA) have failed to assist Covid patients of a DDA apartment complex, residents have stepped in to help their neighbours.

Residents of Gomti Apartments, Kalkaji, have started stocking oxygen cylinders, beds, sanitisers, gloves and personal protective kits to build a Covid care centre within the apartment complex. The citizen group calls itself Gomti Knights.

Aman Dhar, a resident of the apartment complex, and his mother Payal are credited with starting the initiative.

“The crisis deepened its roots on the 20th of last month. My phone was constantly buzzing with texts and calls for help. With the help of a childhood friend who is into the gas business, I had started providing oxygen cylinders. We purchased 200 cylinders at double the price and started providing free oxygen,” said Dhar, admin of Gomti Knights.

“I had to enter Covid-positive (people’s) homes to set up oxygen cylinders and concentrators for patients because their family members had no idea how to fix medical grade cylinders and (control) the flow of oxygen.”

The group also started delivering meals to homes that have Covid patients. It follows a procedure to monitor the health of patients. As soon as the group comes to know of a new patient, he/she and their family are added to a WhatsApp group. They keep in touch with them on the messaging app and share potential leads to Covid resources.

“There were at least 60 houses infected, with all family members, including children, in a block of 100 houses. My mom and my grandmother started cooking for senior citizens and people under home quarantine,” Dhar said.

Richa Nautiyal, whose husband recently recovered from Covid, said they were not part of the group earlier but are now more than willing to extend their support. “My husband was hospitalized last month. When he was admitted, there was no crisis, but now it is bad. When we came back, I was added to the group, which extended a helping hand,” Nautiyal said.

Dhar shared: “We made a backend team of mostly people infected with Covid who were in home isolation. They gave us verified leads and managed patient data and medical records. The numbers were growing so rapidly that we needed help. We connected with gurdwaras. They helped us with oxygen distribution and refilling. Our team calls a family member of the patient to get updates and to help them with treatment.”

A list of doctors and nearby pharmacists has been circulated on the WhatsApp group. The doctors, available in shifts, and can be consulted on the phone. The pharmacists can be contacted for delivery of medicines.

“When the situation is difficult and your government is not in the front, we citizens have to step in to help. We have worked out plans to provide medical assistance. Whenever someone tests positive, we get to work and try to provide as much help as possible, like finding out available beds, delivering oxygen cylinders and medicines to houses,” said Dr R.P. Tiwari, a resident.

Gomti Knights has also been collecting donations. “We have collected over Rs 1 lakh,” Dr Tiwari added. The group has also been updating the expenditure to ensure the donations do not get swindled.

The RWA has not been cooperative. It has shown little interest in helping the group. When asked for space to store oxygen cylinders and other Covid supplies, the RWA refused, the residents claimed.

Dr Tiwari said the RWA had failed to provide PPE kits and sanitiser to security personnel. “We are providing sanitiser and PPE kits.”

The security personnel have been disinfecting the complex on the directive of Gomti Knights. This was done after the municipality’s sanitation drive failed due to a lack of disinfectant.

Contrary to what the residents said, the RWA claimed it is taking all necessary steps to safeguard its personnel and the residents. “We have barred the entry of all unauthorized personnel, including maids, cleaners and drivers. We have restricted access to the society by keeping only two gates open,” P.C. Gautam, general secretary of the RWA said. The guards have been provided sanitiser and thermal guns but no PPE kits “because it is not necessary”.

Dhar said: “The RWA only recently started cooperating, after they received multiple calls from people personally, but there was a time when we had no help.”

On Gomti Knights, Gautam said: “Although, we’ve been kept out of the group, we have done our part. We have provided support. They use our vehicle to deliver food to houses. The fund Gomti Knight has created is separate from the RWA’s and is voluntary. We can’t spend the RWA’s money on this.”

Covid cases seem to be declining in the capital, but the city is still reporting about 300 deaths daily. Although decreasing, the positivity rate is still at an alarming 14%.