West Bengal Doctors Forum and Switch On Foundation Tele medicine helpline number
For Free Medical Consultation dedicated to asymptomatic and mildly sympathetic patients in home isolation 7am to 11pm : 8929408282
Eastern Times, Kolkata : Covid-19 has changed the way people look at mortality! It seems close and the spectre of death needs a ray of hope. This is where WBDF and SwitchOn Foundation step in.
A few days ago a septuagenarian patient called on the SwitchOn Foundation’s helpline. The Kharda based patient was suffering from fever and blood oxygen saturation was a fear inducing 65. The family of the critical patient was in despair of getting access to a hospital bed. A volunteer from the Kolkata based NGO – SwitchON Foundation connected the family to a doctor within a short span of time. The patient was duly hospitalized and is now stable according to recent feedback.
The stories are innumerable as the numbers of volunteers swell at the SwitchOn Foundation to try and tackle one of the most pressing needs of the hour. – the connect between the doctor and the patient. Some cases can be helped, in some the outcome is not so favourable, but the team manages to bridge a part of the gap with their selfless service.
To tackle the unforeseen surge in COVID-19 cases in a dire second wave of the pandemic, the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum (WBDF) with a base of 150+ doctors from across the State have come up with a to launch an online telemedicine helpline service. Doctors from the West Bengal Doctors Forum are giving free telemedicine service and over 100 Volunteers including SwitchON have joined hands with voluntary support to manage the call centre and connect COVID patients’ with doctors. This is a philanthropic service initiated by the doctors of WBDF that SwitchON Is proactively supporting with the necessary technical support.
The scope of service includes various specialists like paediatrics, psychologists, and other domains. Isolated/quarantined COVID positive /mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic persons are encouraged to use this helpline to get medical assistance from the doctors on call.
Dr. Chaki of West Bengal Doctors Forum said “ The members of WBDF are extremely concerned about the suffering of people due to the havoc caused by the second wave of COVID19. Those in-home isolation are being given support via various platforms including WBDF- SwitchOn on the joint endeavour.”
The service also directs patients looking for Hospital Beds, Oxygen cylinders, Ambulance to the government helpline number services through a WhatsApp number (+91 7595067983). The volunteers are fluent in Hindi, Bengali and English, making the service accessible to all sections of society.
Vinay Jaju of SwitchON Foundation said “We reached out to West Bengal Doctors Forum who were doing a tremendous job of supporting patients over the phone and we recognized the need to set up a call center to manage all their calls. So we set up one in a record time of 3 days with over 100 volunteers from all walks of life. It is an honor to stand by our medical practitioners during these times.”
The helpline has already serviced 10,000 since the day it was launched and receives over 1000 calls on a daily basis. As the second wave of the pandemic surges ahead with terrifying speed, the capacity has been increased to receive 5000 calls in a day, and is still growing. The awareness about the service is spread through word of mouth and multiple social media forums.
Dr Chaki of West Bengal Doctors Forum further said “Relevant communication among those sick and the health administration will definitely reduce panic among people and medical professionals alike. Time is of paramount essence. Every second count, every life matters. ” The scope of rumour mongering and false information reduces largely when a patient or his/her family can avail medical advice with immediate intervention.
Pial Banerjee of SwitchON Foundation said “It has been sleepless nights for many of us but it is only a fraction of the trouble patients are going through trying to find medical help. We have ramped up our capacity to nearly five times since inception.”
SwitchON and WBDF’s telemedicine service is seeing a massive number of calls coming from peri-urban and rural parts of Bengal and callers are finding it extremely helpful in such a situation of panic and disorder. A reassuring voice at the other end of the telephone instils hope and strength which is paramount in beating the disease.
A heart-warming narrative came to light from the annals of the service. The parents of a small child called in absolute panic as their child was breathless but Covid negative. Oxygen saturation levels cannot be measured in the case of young children, so the situation seemed poised to be worsening. The team connected the hapless parents to the tireless doctors. Their minds were eased once the doctor advised them. The child is stable now and under home isolation.
Lives can be saved, minds put at risk by the WBDF- SwitchOn combine. Perhaps the most terrifying part of this Pandemic is the feeling of helplessness and fear. The joint efforts of these Covid warriors have created a safe haven for the callers. They receive solace, a friendly and calm voice on the phone along with the assurance of a medical consultation preceding the advice of a doctor.
It is not merely a call, but a beacon of hope in the rough seas of the deadly pandemic.