- Patients can simply walk in and use the oxygen available for free: Gurdwara
- People are anxious and desperate: Shri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Chief
- Many hospitals in the country are facing acute oxygen shortage
New Delhi: Amid the unprecedented shortage of oxygen in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping the country, Shri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Ghaziabad has come forward to help patients with low oxygen levels and save their lives through an initiative called ‘Oxygen Langar’. Just like any other langar (community free kitchens) organized by the Sikh community, ‘Oxygen Langar’ is also based on the philosophy of ‘Seva’ or selfless service. The Gurdwara has created a facility in its premises where patients can simply come and utilise the oxygen available for free.
Speaking to NDTV, Gurpreet Singh Rummy, Chief, Gurdwara Indirapuram said,
With the help of our volunteers, we have been able to save thousands of people till now. During the initial days of the ‘oxygen langar’ we were helping save lives of at least 200 critical patients every day by providing them with oxygen. Those patients came here with oxygen saturation of 40-45 on the oximeter and we ensured that the level rises up to over 90.
The Gurdwara started the initiative on April 22 after numerous hospitals across the Delhi-NCR started reporting lack of oxygen and sending out messages for help. The initiative received support from NGO Khalsa Help International and social activists. The volunteers are helping in maintaining managing the crowd and assisting patients at the Gurdwara premise. However, in the initial days of the programme maintaining physical distancing and following COVID-19 norms was difficult as people were desperate, and patients were pouring in a few volunteers including Mr. Rummy’s 28-year-old son caught the infection. Mr. Rummy said,
When we started ‘oxygen langar’, our only focus was on saving lives and helping the patients who were not getting a bed, oxygen, medicines or support from9 any hospital. They were desperate and in crisis. There was no hospital in the Delhi-NCR region with enough facilities to take in more patients. It was an emergency situation. Every day there used to be huge lines of vehicles on the road and with patients, relatives, volunteers running around to save lives, it was not possible to strictly follow COVID-19 norms. We worked 24 hours during that time. Some of our own contracted the virus and my son is also struggling right now. But thankfully, the situation is slightly better on ground now. We are still getting many patients, but the rush is not as high as before. So we are able to maintain physical distancing as much as possible among the patients, their relatives and volunteers. We ensure that everyone is wearing personal protective equipments (PPEs).
Patients can take oxygen from the vehicle itself in which they arrive. To avail the facility, one can contact the Gurdwara on their helpline number (9097041313).
The Gurdwara committee has formed teams to organise cylinders, said Mr. Rummy. Some of the cylinders have been brought from as far as Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh and Rudrapur in Uttarakhand.
A resident of Ghaziabad who was waiting to get a cylinder for a COVID-19 positive relative said,
This is our last resort. We have tried getting bed and oxygen cylinder everywhere. Hospitals are running out of the critical supplies. Many patients have come here. The Gurdwara is helping us.
Another resident present at the ‘Oxygen langar’ facility lamented the tendency of some people to take advantage of the crisis. He said,
It is a matter of shame that the cylinder which normally costs Rs. 2,000 is currently being sold at high prices.
On the current shortage of oxygen supply in hospitals and the emergency situation that the country is facing, Mr. Rummy said,
This is extremely unfortunate. I don’t know what the government is doing. People are desperate. They are coming to us for help. If we can get the cylinders, why can’t they ensure it, too?
Mr. Rummy and Khalsa Help International have started recently started a COVID Care facility in the city with 100 beds with oxygen. They are also working on starting ‘oxygen langars’ at other locations in Ghaziabad to help people cope with the crisis.
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