IIT Gandhinagar comes out with Whitepaper to help Educational, other Institutions set up in-house COVID care facilities

Gandhinagar: Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar has come out with a Whitepaper on the COVID-19 Care Facility it established in the campus during April 2021 to tackle the surge in cases in campus and local community during the Second Wave. The institute is keen that other institutions and communities across the country benefit from their experience in setting up this in-house COVID care facility and reduce the pressure on healthcare facilities across India.

Also, the Union Ministry of Health on Monday (17th May 2021) advocated for the creation of 30-bed Covid Care Centres in schools, community halls, panchayat buildings, educational institutions, housing societies and other communities.

This will go a long way in relieving the pressure on India’s medical infrastructure, which is severely strained with shortages of beds, oxygen concentrators, oxygen tanks and respirators, among other facilities.

The Whitepaper is publicly available and can be downloaded from https://iitgn.ac.in/pdf/ccf.pdf

IITGN converted its newly-built guest house to a COVID care facility that served not only to provide relief to hundreds of infected members of the community but contributed in a small way to relieving the added burdens these Covid positive patients would have otherwise imposed on Ahmedabad’s and Gandhinagar’s health infrastructure.

More than 240 Covid patients were served at the facility from 1st April 2021 to 15th May 2021 including a peak of 95 in mid-April 2021. All but one patient had been released from the facility (as on 18th May 2021). At its peak during April 2021, IIT Gandhinagar had a total of 248 active COVID-19 cases, of which 162 were on campus and the remaining among off-campus students, staff, outsourced workers, and their families.

Explaining the motive behind developing and releasing this Whitepaper, Prof. Sudhir Jain, Director, IITGN, said, “We are experiencing an unprecedented global health crisis that demands unconventional and urgent action to support and care for each other.”

Further, Prof. Sudhir Jain said, “At IITGN, we did not have the benefit of a guiding document or a Standard Operating Procedure that we could follow at the start. We evolved with every challenge and learnt lessons during the process. This Whitepaper is released with the hope that our experience and lessons can inform other institutions and organiations interested in developing similar facilities to support their communities during the pandemic. We are glad that we could do our bit to reduce the burden on the medical infrastructure of the state and at the same time provide safe and critical medical care for Covid patients in our community.”

IITGN’s Covid Care Facility provided hard-to-access health services, such as oxygen contractors, respirators, and basic health services, up to the point that the patient required hospitalization. Equally important, it isolated the Covid positive patient from his family, roommates and neighbors who could be infected, reducing the spread of the virus. In the process, the facility contributed not just to servicing its community, but also reducing the burden on the national healthcare system.

The development of similar facilities by other communities, likewise, would be beneficial not just to their community members, but equally to the national fight against the pandemic.

While IIT Gandhinagar was fortunate to have a newly built guest house it could convert for the purpose, virtually every community is similarly positioned to varying degrees. Guesthouses at most institutions and organiations have minimal traffic currently because of the travel limitations imposed by the pandemic and could be similarly utilized. These have the benefit of private toilets and in many instances air conditioning.

Usage of the Facility

During the month of April 2021, 248 IITGN community members, inclusive of those on or commuting to campus (including outsourced staff) tested positive for COVID-19 and the vast majority were housed in the institutional isolation facility. A handful opted for home isolation.

Almost 94% of the patients housed in the Covid Care facility recovered without needing hospitaliation and were released after isolation. Just 6 per cent (16 people) required hospitalization, of which six unfortunately died. At its peak, 95 Covid-19 positive patients were residents in IITGN’s isolation facility, which dwindled to just 1 on May 16.

Covid positive patients from the community with mild to moderate symptoms were housed in this facility. It provided them basic medical services, such as regular temperature and oxygen monitoring, advice from doctors and nurses of the Institute, medicines, blood and RT-PCR tests, hard-to-access health services, such as oxygen concentrators and tanks, and nutritious meals four times daily. Institute medical staff and ambulance services are available 24×7.

The facility also helped patients find beds in local hospitals if needed. Counselling services offered psychological support to patients, medical staff, and their families

Based on the defining Institutional principles of inclusivity and empathy, the facility provided isolation and health support to the entire IITGN community, including students, project staff, faculty, admin staff, and contractual workers, such as drivers, mess staff, housekeeping staff, gardeners, security personnel, construction workers and their family members.

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