On the morning of 12 April, a distressed Gangawane called a helpline number operating in Baner, Pune. The chest pain he had earlier dismissed as acidity was becoming severe. With lockdown in full force in Maharashtra, he wasn’t sure what facilities were available. But when the pain got unbearable, he called Baner Balewadi Pashan Residents Association’s (BBPRA).
Within no time, an ambulance was sent to Gangawane and he was shifted to a private hospital.
Dr Rajesh Deshpande, founder and secretary of the medical branch of BBPRA tells The Better India (TBI), “We took this as a priority case and asked a nurse to conduct an ECG at the earliest. There was absolutely no time to be wasted. She sent the ECG reports to me via WhatsApp and I had two cardiologists on standby. Within a couple of minutes, they confirmed the diagnosis. It was a heart attack. An injection was quickly administered to him.”
BBPRA’s initiative had saved a life.
Maharashtra was one of the first in India to implement a statewide lockdown to tackle COVID-19. Normal life is on standby and when it comes to senior citizens, those with medical issues or such other individuals, uncertainty prevails.
Taking responsibility for the Baner area of Pune, the BBPRA has formed a group of volunteers, medical professionals, vendors and police personnel to help people during the lockdown period with deliveries of daily essentials, and extending medical aid whenever necessary.
A Call for Relief for Pune Senior Citizens:
Sarang Wable, a core member of the BBPRA shares that initially, the group was formed to help students living away from families. But soon, it was tweaked to helping senior citizens because the latter group showed more eagerness to seek help.
“As of now, five core volunteers are admins of 14 active WhatsApp groups with 250+ elderly citizens, police personnel and medical professionals. Since some seniors are not tech-savvy, we have asked their neighbours to be in the group in case of emergency,” Wable shares.
While the focus is to help the elderly living alone, the BBPRA doesn’t hesitate to help others who are in genuine need of help. Like pregnant women for example.
“A senior citizen in the group pinged us saying his daughter needed an urgent check-up. She was due for delivery and there was no one who could take her to the hospital. Her mother was stuck in their home village due to the lockdown. We immediately took her to the hospital,” Wable tells TBI.
With the lockdown rules changing in time with the reach of the virus, the BBPRA has had to adjust their schedules accordingly. Where earlier, 15 BBPRA volunteers could go out for home deliveries, they have found it increasingly difficult to do so since the system of vehicle passes was enforced in Pune.
“So we got in touch with vendors who would home deliver groceries or cooked food to the senior citizens. Most of them do it for free and one or two charges about Rs 30 for delivery. We keep updating the list of vendors as they change their particulars,” informs Wable.
Medical Attention by Professionals:
The BMA is the medical branch of the BBPRA. A team of 250 doctors, specialists and super specialists is part of the group to advise members about their health, diet, exercise, medical issues etc.
Currently, 30 of those doctors have offered their services to Pune residents to keep them calm, motivated and extend help during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Gangawane’s life could be saved thanks to this initiative. However, Dr Deshpande shares this was an exceptional case. “We haven’t received calls about life-threatening situations apart from that one call. Instead, us doctors conduct regular conference calls with senior citizens to discuss lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension or skin issues, heart conditions, diet, exercises etc,” explains Dr Deshpande.
While the doctors are always available for medical advice, they have about 10 ambulances from government and private hospitals ready to be sent if the need arises. So far, the doctors have helped a cancer patient get regular chemotherapy sessions, Gangawane as well as senior citizens who had urgent medical issues like a bone fracture.
If you know anyone in Baner in need of medical attention or advice call the BBPRA medical helpline numbers:
8 am to 1 pm- 774078893/ 9922441226 / 8180973006
1 pm to 5 pm- 9923108585 / 9371051710 / 8669129465
5 pm to 9 pm- 9850038032 / 9028391234 / 8669966440
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)