Gram Vikas sets up COVID Care Centre in remote rural Odisha


By GV News Desk

25 May 2021

A cluster-level COVID Care Centre set up by Gram Vikas is augmenting the local healthcare infrastructure in one of the poorest parts of the Kalahandi district in southwest Odisha. Gram Vikas Shikshya Niketan, one of the four Gram Vikas residential schools, in Kumudabahal village in the Thuamul Rampur block, is now a 50 bed COVID Care Centre for people from villages in and around the block.

Thuamul Rampur has the highest incidence of poverty among the Community Development Blocks in Kalahandi. The COVID Care Centre strengthens the district’s institutional health facilities in a context where the second wave of the pandemic is increasingly spreading to rural areas struggling with limited healthcare infrastructure.

The village houses with fewer rooms offer little scope for large families to isolate infected patients. The Centre provides a much needed facility to quarantine, test, and isolate patients to break the chain of transmission.

The Centre currently hosts 32 brick kiln workers and their families, who returned from Telangana. The residents are from villages in the neighbouring Dharmagarh block. They have been staying there since 17 May.

Jema Tandi, and her husband, travelled by bus for over 450 km from Bhadradri Kothagudem District in Telangana to Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi District of Odisha. Jema says they feel refreshed at the centre after the long tiring journey and are eager to meet their three young children, “There is no work available in my village, so it is difficult to look after the needs of my family. We came back as soon as the brick kiln shut due to the lockdown. Our employer gave us our salary and dropped us off at the Odisha border on a bus. From the Odisha border, we came to this centre by bus provided by the Odisha government. Though the journey was long and tiring due to the heat, the stay here has been very relaxing. We feel really happy to live in such neat and clean surroundings, and we don’t mind spending a few days just to be sure that we are healthy and will meet our families without fear of infecting them.”

The COVID Care Centre provides a resident-friendly atmosphere, proper lighting, ventilation, ceiling fan, 24×7 water and electricity supply, hot food, and snacks. It also has a clean environment with large recreational areas to maintain social distancing. For women, there are separate rooms with toilet facilities.

“We are committed to supporting the local administration to contain the spread and protect the rural communities from the coronavirus spread. All the migrant workers coming to Kalahandi undergo screening for COVID-19 symptoms. Rapid antigen tests are conducted on the day they arrive at the centre. If anyone shows symptoms, then they are supported to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Asymptomatic people will spend seven days in quarantine at the centre. I check on them daily and make sure that they are comfortable”, says Bhawani Shankar Dash, Gram Vikas District Manager, who coordinates the centre.

The local ANM and ASHA workers visit the Centre daily in the morning and evening to do temperature checks and monitor the oxygen levels of the people. The doctor from the Thuamul Rampur Community Health Centre (CHC) visits once every two days and any time else when there is a need.

Bhawani says the Centre is big enough to have separate isolation rooms for those testing positive and others who are undergoing the mandatory quarantining, “Four people tested positive. We immediately shifted them to another space in the school premises for isolation. The CHC supplies the required medicines. Food and snacks are prepared in-house by the Gram Vikas school staff.” The CHC ambulance is available to the Centre to take any critically ill patient to the district COVID hospital.

Another brick kiln worker, Sundar Parabhoi, from Kumapada village of Joypatna block in Kalahandi District, is also all praise for the facilities at the quarantine center. While coming back to Kalahandi, he feared going back home directly as it might be risky for his family members, “I am really happy to spend 14 days here at the quarantine centre. The center has a homely feeling, and we are treated and looked after very well. They check our temperature and all other parameters daily. After 14 days, I can go home without the fear of infecting my family members. We are thankful to Gram Vikas for the arrangements.”

Gram Vikas COVID-19 response programme is multi-pronged as marginalised communities struggle with interlinked issues to health, life, livelihoods, food, and mental health because of the pandemic.

You can support our ongoing response work here: COVID-19 RELIEF FUND FOR HEALTH & LIFE SECURITY

Gram Vikas Shikshya Niketan is now a 50 bed COVID Care Centre for people from villages in and around the Thuamul Rampur block of Kalahandi district.

Photograph by Gokul Nath


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