Mumbai

Dharavi on the mend: life inside one of its COVID-19 care centres

Once a COVID-19 hotspot, Dharavi has proved that sustained efforts can beat the most challenging situation: the sprawling slum colony reported zero deaths to the pandemic in the first week of June.

Among the facilities fighting the disease in this area is the 300-bed Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex. The complex was converted into a Covid Care Centre for asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms, in the first week of April.

Once chock-a-block, the centre now has only seven patients. The last batch of patients will be discharged in a week, and the authorities will then close the facility. “The fresh cases will be transferred to the Dedicated Covid Health Centre near Mahim Nature Park,” says assistant commissioner Kiran Dighavkar, who is also in charge of leading the battle against the virus in Dharavi.

Nurse Priti Srivastava checks on a COVID-19 patient. From 491 cases in April and 1,216 in May, the number dropped to 274 in June. Between April 1 and June 15, a total of 2,068 cases were reported, of which 1,040 patients recovered and 77 died. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
Among the facilities fighting the disease in this area is the 300-bed Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex. The complex was converted into a Covid Care Centre for asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms, in the first week of April. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
A doctor, nurse and a ward boy enter the isolation facility for routine check-up rounds. During the routine check-up, doctors check patients' oxygen level, temperature, sugar level and blood pressure. If a patient is found to have developed severe symptoms, they are shifted to hospital. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
Dr. Ankita Shete interacts with a patient. A combination of containment, testing and guaranteed food and medicine supplies, along with intensive door-to-door surveillance and assistance from private agencies, helped bring down the numbers. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
Patients practise yoga at the 300-bed COVID-19 care centre (CCC) at Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex in Dharavi for mild and asymptomatic patients. Dr. Dhananjay More, who has been conducting yoga and laughter therapy sessions since the start of April, has received positive feedback from patients. Some have also sought video clips to continue the exercise at home. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
The medical staff take a break for lunch. The CCC at Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex is managed by a dedicated team of three doctors, three nurses, eight ward boys and two coordinators. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
Ward boy Kaustubh places medicine in a plastic container for a patient in isolation. Ward boys regularly sanitise premises, take food to the patients and move serious patients to hospitals. Most ward boys and support staff have been hired on contract during the pandemic. Ward boy Sumeet Yahudi asks, “Sir, hum log jaan pe khelke patients ke seva kar rahe hain. Yeh BMC wale hum ko naukri me lenge na? (We are serving patients risking our lives. Will the BMC give us a permanent job?)” Photo: Prashant Nakwe
Doctor Ankita Shete and nurse Priti Srivastava try to console a patient who has learnt of her husband's death from COVID-19. Kept in isolation, the woman was unable to see him for the last time. Besides treating patients for COVID-19 symptoms, healthcare staff also counsel and comfort them to maintain their morale. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
A father and his son, both COVID-19 patients, play snake and ladder on mobile at Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex, Covid Care Centre (CCC) in Dharavi, Mumbai. The 300-hundred bed COVID Care Centre started in first week of April will be closing within a week. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
Staff from the CCC cheer patients being discharged after recovering from COVID-19. With the 300-bed CCC — set up in April first week — now housing only three patients, authorities plan to close it once the last batch is discharged. Fresh cases will be taken to the dedicated COVID-19 health centre near Mahim Nature Park, assistant municipal commissioner Kiran Dighavkar said. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
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