(WSVN) - The delta variant now has countries around the world becoming more concerned over a resurgence of COVID cases. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek has a look at how a group of South Florida doctors are Connected by COVID, providing their expertise from thousands of miles away.
This doctor’s office in Broward is always busy.
Receptionist on phone: “Good morning, this is Dr. Singh’s office, how can I assist you?”
Like many doctors, Dr. Alka Singh sees patients at her office in Margate and also online.
Dr. Singh on Zoom: “I’m glad to see you better. I can’t imagine what you went through.”
But Dr. Singh’s online patients live more than 8,000 miles away in India! Many of them had COVID-19 and do not have access to a doctor or any type of healthcare.
Dr. Alka Singh: “We saw that it was unmanageable like a pandemic, and a disaster that was happening back there.”
In May, India reported its highest numbers of COVID cases and deaths.
Hundreds of bodies washed up on the banks of the Ganges River after cremations became too expensive for families to afford.
Healthcare workers were also among the dead. That led to a shortage of medical professionals.
Dr. Singh and other Indian American doctors here in South Florida knew they needed to help.
Dr. Alka Singh: “We started with this group, where we started helping people, answering their questions from different aspects of professional healthcare workers.”
They started the COVID-19 Group on WhatsApp, and began offering free online consultations.
Patient: “Just one little question doctor, can we still go ahead with the vitamins, like Vitamin C?”
The doctors spend hours of personal time tending to their patients, but their services now go beyond treating those who are sick or recovering from COVID.
Manika Badhwar, founder, Rasoi on Wheels: “These two months have been really, really bad.”
The COVID-19 Group saw that charities in India were struggling, so they teamed up with a group similar to Meals on Wheels called Rasoi on Wheels.
It provides food to the elderly, the poor and children, but when the pandemic hit, founder Manika Badhwar was overwhelmed with people who were asking for more than a hot meal.
Manika Badhwar: “They needed some support. They wanted to know whether to take plasma. They wanted to know what is the next step.”
Dr. Singh and the COVID-19 Group have made a world of difference.
Manika Badhwar: “Very soon, it was all over India that there is a group like this of doctors from the U.S., and they’re working as a voluntary service here.”
The doctors knew their patients needed medications and medical supplies, but they were afraid the government would keep their donations from going to the people who need them the most.
Dr. Bharat Gupta: “So, we had to use our personal connections, personal friends over there, physicians, that ‘Hey, we are sending these oxygen concentrators, make sure you distribute it rightly.'”
With a plan in place, the doctors are continuing to collect medical supplies and medications to send to India.
Dr. Sheela Shah: “It is such a phenomenal feeling to know that we can touch our people in our motherland and help them in time of need and crisis.”
As the country’s major cities start to relax COVID restrictions, the fear of another COVID wave lingers.
India has a population of 1.3 billion people, but less than 6% of the population has been fully vaccinated.
Dr. Alka Singh: “I do have panic in my own heart that, ‘OK, hopefully, we won’t have to deal with the same crisis we did a month ago.’ People are not aware of what this pandemic can do to them.”
Until more people in India are vaccinated, Dr. Singh and her South Florida colleagues are committed to doing as much as they can for as long as they are needed.
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