How campaign ‘O2 for Madras’ helped COVID-19 patients

One group of volunteers took calls from patients and their families, while another group helped provide oxygen cylinders and concentrators

For 26-year-old Haani Abdul Qayoom, an environmental health scientist who had to stay back in Chennai after her flight to Dubai was cancelled, it was a blessing in disguise: she was able to gather her resources together and help COVID-19 patients in need of oxygen and hospital beds. That’s when she started the campaign ‘O2 for Madras.’

“When I saw what was happening around us I wanted to quickly find a way to provide patients with oxygen cylinders and concentrators first. So, we formed different volunteer groups immediately to help the patients,” she said.

One group was taking calls from patients or their family members and would then direct them to a group of doctors. “Sometimes, the caller didn’t know if the patient needed oxygen support alone, or hospitalisation as well. So we would get their details, speak to doctors and support them with cylinders, concentrators or hospital beds. Another group of volunteers would then deliver the cylinders or concentrators. Initially, it was very difficult to get the beds but after a few days, we at least knew who to reach out to in each hospital to know the bed availability,” she said.

The campaign has so far helped over 500 persons in the last one month, she added. As the cases have reduced, the number of calls too have come down drastically, she said.

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