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From the Frontlines to the Family Room: My experience with Covid-19 in India

10 November 2020

Soon after the onset of Covid-19, Equalize Health (formerly known as D-Rev) started to work on identifying the unmet needs of frontline healthcare workers. Our goal was to design a solution to meet these gaps. As the commercial manager in India, I am responsible for interviewing clinicians, nursing staff and procurement officials (remotely) who are on the front lines of saving lives and managing surges of COVID-19 patients.

The growing number of cases in India are not only a growing part of my workload. They are also in my neighbourhood. It didn’t take long before I started to wonder how I would manage the impact of Covid-19 if it touched me personally. I was especially concerned for my parents who are senior citizens and have comorbidities.

Then in August it happened. At first, my mother developed flu symptoms.

My parents live in a non-metro city, so even the first step, getting tested, posed a challenge. The city administration had barred private labs from testing, and so the only option was to get tested at the government district hospital. It wasn’t too long after when my father also developed symptoms. All three of us tested positive for Covid-19.

We were admitted to a private tertiary Covid-19 hospital. With a 1:10 nurse to patient ratio and a lack of available trained staff, the level of nursing care was frustrating for both us as patients and the healthcare team. Healthcare staff struggled to provide prescribed injections. The long wait from testing to nursing care to prescriptions, highlighted what I had discovered as the Equalize Health Commercial Manager: across the country, we are facing supply issues of Covid-19 drugs and a capacity issue for quality care [a].

With a 1:10 nurse to patient ratio and a lack of available trained staff, the level of nursing care was frustrating for both us as patients and the healthcare team.

I am relieved to say that my parents and I have since recovered from the virus, in spite of these setbacks. Although our Covid-19 journey is far from over. The hospital did not follow the pricing cap guidelines for Covid-19 treatment issued by the state government[b]. As I write this, I am still trying to get the hospital bills reimbursed from the health insurance company.

While I was in the hospital, I found myself doing “observational study” to add to the need-finding exercise on Covid-19 I had completed earlier. Sadly, what I now see through my work experience only compounds my personal experience. The gaps in the healthcare system of a non-metro Indian city, that my family felt as we endured Covid-19, have only widened further during this pandemic.

As we are seeing across the globe, the impact of Covid-19 manifests itself in our physical, mental, and financial health and well-being. My experience has strengthened my commitment to the mission of Equalize Health (formerly known as D-Rev). Together, we can create a world where everyone, no matter where you live, has access to world-class medical treatment. If we are to begin to beat and recover from this pandemic, we need to ensure therapeutics, supplies, vaccines, knowledge, and more reach all corners of the world. Equalize Health’s innovative medical products, scaling through the market, and ECHO training for clinicians is a good start to this important work.