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Doctors partner with NGO to launch Covid-19 telemedicine service

Kolkata: To tackle the unforeseen surge in Covid-19 cases in a dire second wave of the pandemic, the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum (WBDF) with ...

Kolkata: To tackle the unforeseen surge in Covid-19 cases in a dire second wave of the pandemic, the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum (WBDF) with a base of 150+ doctors from across the State have come up with a Kolkata based NGO - SwitchON Foundation to launch an online telemedicine helpline service.

150 doctors from the West Bengal Doctors Forum are giving free telemedicine service and over 100 volunteers, including SwitchON, have joined hand with voluntary support to manage the call centre and connect COVID patients with doctors that include various specialists like pediatrics, psychologists, etc.

This service is dedicated to isolated/quarantined Covid positive /mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic persons. The helpline is available from 7 am to 12 midnight. The telemedicine helpline has been created in an effort to help mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients who are currently in home isolation to take advice from doctors regarding treating Covid with home care.

The helpline service is available in both Bengali, and Hindi and has English-speaking volunteers also. In addition to connecting patients to doctors, the service also directs patients looking for Hospital Beds, Oxygen cylinders, Ambulance to the government helpline number services through a WhatsApp number (+91 7595067983).

The helpline has already serviced 10,000 since the day it was launched and on average receives over 1000 calls daily. Seeing the growing need for this service the capacities have been increased to receive 5000 calls in a day.

Dr Chaki of West Bengal Doctors Forum said “Vibrant communication among those sick and the health administration will definitely reduce panic among people and medical professionals alike. Time is of paramount essence. Every second count, every life matters.”

Pial Banerjee of SwitchON Foundation said “It has been sleepless nights for many of us but it is only a fraction of the trouble patients are going through trying to find medical help. We have ramped up our capacity to handle 5 times of our current strength“

SwitchON and WBDF’s telemedicine service is seeing a massive number of calls coming from peri-urban and rural parts of Bengal and callers are finding it extremely helpful in such a situation of panic and disorder.

The service doesn’t directly provide hospital beds, ambulance, or oxygen cylinders. However, for emergency patients seeking such services, it guides the callers to avail the already existing Government SOS services by providing government helpline numbers and other verified information through its WhatsApp number


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