Hyderabad: As India’s healthcare ecosystem continues to battle Covid-19, patients with chronic diseases such as those of the kidney who need to access dialysis facilities regularly to continue their treatment are immuno-compromised and stand at a risk of infection. Kidney patients across age groups remain vulnerable, according to NephroPlus.
Hyderabad-based NephroPlus operates the largest organised dialysis chain in the country, catering to 1.6 lakh dialysis patients, at any point of time. It operates 202 centres in 120 cities across 20 States. The company is seeing a drop in number of patients visiting its centres due to the lockdown.
NephroPlus founder and CEO Vikram Vuppala told Telangana Today, “Almost 40 per cent of our patients travel about 25 km on an average to avail dialysis at our centres. Due to the Covid lockdown, there are travel restrictions and because of this the intra-city, inter-city and inter-State movement has become difficult for these patients. Many of our patients used to depend on public transportation. This situation has resulted in a 15 per cent drop in the number of patients reaching our centres and their lives are at risk. Next two months will also be muted.”
He added, “We are working with each patient and trying to understand the transport problems. We are advising every patient who needs to travel a long distance not to miss dialysis and make alternative arrangements for private transportation. In certain States, we have sought the government help to provide ambulances for these dialysis patients but the States are reserving ambulances for Covid cases. Since the dialysis patients have to come to a centre twice a week, majority of those who come from long distances cannot afford private transportation.”
NephroPlus has made it mandatory for all of its new dialysis patients to get Covid-19 test done. And only those whose results are negative are permitted to avail dialysis at any of its centres, as it is known that other patients would be at risk otherwise.
Also, the general awareness levels about Covid are very low in tier-3 and tier-4 towns of India compared to tier-1 and tier-2. This is concerning as the rural population is severely ignorant, Vikram Vuppala noted.
On its employee front, the company has taken Covid-19 insurance with Rs 5 lakh coverage for its 3,400 employees. The company has also identified several manufacturers who can supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear and masks, and is helping its hospital partners to procure them. It is also ensuring that the personnel have adequate PPEs, masks and dialysis consumables to continue to serve dialysis patients.
Meanwhile, the company has created a Rs 1-crore fund raising campaign along with Care India to support poor dialysis patients and has raised Rs 35 lakh already. This fund will help patients who are struggling to pay for dialysis or meet transportation costs.
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