MILK WITH turmeric, ginger soup and foods rich in Vitamin C including fruits like kiwis, pineapples and oranges – all wrapped up in neat packages – had been reaching 18 COVID-19 patients in Nawanshahr Civil Hospital for at least one month every day.
On Wednesday when all 18 patients at this hospital in the first hotspot of Punjab made to the list of recovered patients, the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, which had come forward to help the Punjab government combat this crisis by providing nutritious food to these 18 patients, has been asked to stop the supplies. The last COVID-19 patient in the hospital, a 16-year-old, was declared cured Wednesday.
The gurdwara, having served the patients, has now asked the government to assign them duty to serve food if it required for COVID-19 patients elsewhere in Doaba.
The gurdwara has been providing a nutritious diet rich in antioxidants to the patients to help them build their strength and immunity. While the recovery rate of Punjab remains at 19.5 per cent, the Nawanshahr Civil Hospital has reported 100 per cent recovery rate. The first patient from the district was being treated at Banga government hospital.
These 18 patients had contracted the virus from a 70-year-old resident of Pathlawa village in Banga, after his return from Italy and Germany. He had later passed away in Nawanshahr’s Banga.
When these patients, 14 family members of the deceased man and their four close contacts had tested positive in Pathlawa, Sjoon and Jhikha villages, the Nawanshahar Civil Hospital, designated as the COVID-19 hospital, did not have any arrangement for food for the patients. That was when the gurdwara president, Makhan Singh, volunteered to provide the food to these patients.
Since then, everyday, women devotees and a cook of the gurdwara, worked with dedication to provide three meals to these patients. 'We have been preparing the food with a community spirit and adding positive vibes from the house of god. They recovered fast,' he said.
Mr. Makhan Singh said, 'The doctors in the hospital have been advising us on preparing food everyday. I have been buying strawberries, kiwis, pineapple, oranges, banana, apples, and whatever fruits available in the market. While cooking we have just been praying that they get treated fast.'
A Commission Agent, Mr. Makhan Singh added, 'I want to make an appeal to the Punjab government that we are willing to provide food to any patient in a COVID-19 hospital in Doaba or even in any nearby area. We can manage to get the food delivered at a distance of even 60 km from here. We want the ailing to recover fast.'
He said they have been packing the food neatly in aluminium foil and delivered to the hospital, from where it was passed on to the patients.
“We realised that more than the medicine, these patients required counselling as they were panicked as they were among the first few patients to report positive in the state. As it was not possible to keep the staff inside with them 24X7 considering the highly infectious disease, we created a WhatsApp group for these patients and kept on counselling them on that group. The videos of patients recovering the world over were shared. Treating them was a team effort with our staff doing a commendable job. Our microbiologist Rupinderjit Singh did a great job handling this.”
The hospital also decided to keep at least 2-3 patients, especially those from the same family, in a room instead of isolating them individually. “This served a huge purpose,” said the SMO, adding, “They put up a music system where Gurbani is played throughout the day. This helped the patients to a great deal.”