At the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, India saw an unprecedented demand for medical oxygen. Scores of patients were gasping for breath and those attending them were running from pillar to post to get an oxygen cylinder.
Covid-19 situation was not much different in Tamil Nadu, where Chennai resident Seetha Devi lost her mother due to oxygen shortage on May 1. She had Covid-19.
To prevent others from struggling like her mother, Ms. Seetha Devi has now started an autorickshaw oxygen service outside the RGGGH where her mother waited for hours.
My mother R. Vijaya, who was already under dialysis, would have been saved if we had got oxygen on time. However, in the first week of May, there were many patients outside RGGGH and the hospital was over burdened. Hence I decided to start this oxygen auto service,” explains Ms. Seetha Devi who runs an NGO called Street Vision Social Charitable Trust. They render help to transgenders, HIV affected women and children, providing free tuition to children in slums among others.
“We have an autorickshaw that was used to rescue homeless people as part of Kaval Karangal. I fitted oxygen cylinders in it and started the service on May 6. In case someone needs oxygen immediately, my volunteers, wearing PPE kits, make them sit inside the vehicle and provide oxygen, she explained.
She has helped 300 persons till date. “Recently a lady was brought with very low oxygen levels. I made her sit in the autorickshaw and after her levels improved, she managed to get an ICU ward in the RGGGH. The family was very thankful. She reminded me of my mother,” added Ms. Seetha.
Apart from this, she also ferries patients, recommended by doctors from RGGGH, to other hospitals and COVID-19 care centres. Lingaraj from Kundrathur, who was saved due to the oxygen auto on Saturday, said that he is indebted to Ms. Seetha.” My levels had dropped to 72, but I was made to sit in the autorickshaw and I was given oxygen. It has increased to 92,” he said.
Ms. Seetha added that she will be happy to help more people. “I am planning to get more auto rickshaws and fit them with oxygen. But I am struggling for money,” she said.