Where there’s a will, there’s a way: My journey setting up a Covid ward in India
Contributed by Saravanakumar Periyasamy of EO Oman, director of Zawawi Powertech Engineering. In 2019, he became the director of Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai, India.
My journey begins
In 2019, I was sent to Chennai, India, as part of the team assigned to turn around a once prominent, now ailing, hospital brand in South India. Personally, transitioning from the oil, gas and energy industry to the healthcare realm alone was a significant adjustment. And then, in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic struck before I had fully acclimated to my new environment.
The magnitude of the pandemic, both globally and personally, was unprecedented and beyond any scale of imagination. There wasn’t one economy or region that was immune to the ravages of Covid-19.
While most citizens were advised to remain indoors to tame the virus spread, some of us―the frontline workers―had to answer the call of duty. And though I had not worked in the healthcare industry before, suddenly, I was a frontline worker in an essential job who had to show up in person to work.
The first wave
Although the first wave of Covid was daunting, we would eventually learn it was mild compared with the gravity of the second wave. As the second wave hit, something inside me said, now that my family had invested in the healthcare industry, not playing our part in the pandemic wasn’t right (in terms of not having a designated Covid ward in our hospital to help to save lives).
One year into the crisis, people had grown complacent and adopted a lethargic attitude―which gave birth to the second wave. By the time the second wave hit, the healthcare system was overstretched and overwhelmed.
Our hospital, Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai, has a single specialty―cardiac care. Therefore, we didn’t have a designated ward where we could treat Covid patients. As a non-medical professional, I lacked many of the necessary skillsets to set one up. Even so, I resolved to make my contribution to the crisis by setting up Frontier Lifeline Hospital’s new Covid ward and ensuring its smooth operations.