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Timely help leads to volunteering by CAs

Sripriya Kumar   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

When Sripriya Kumar sought a hospital bed for a fellow chartered accountant during the second wave of COVID-19, she received help from a senior bureaucrat. As a gesture of gratitude, she told the bureaucrat that she would like to help the government in some way. She was directed to speak to another bureaucrat, Darez Ahamed, who invited her to look at how the government managed bed allocation. And that is how her tryst began with the government’s unified command centre for COVID-19 management.

People can call 104, the government helpline for all medical-related assistance, which is managed by the unified command centre. During the second wave, the number, which in normal times would address people’s health-related questions, was used to help them access hospital beds.

The tour of the unified command centre left Ms. Kumar wondering if she could assist people in seamlessly locating beds. She put out an appeal in her social media groups for chartered accountants. “We started with three volunteers, and soon the number rose to 130 CAs. The maximum number of people who supported us on any given day was 102,” she recalls.

When she started out, 1,000 hospitals were enlisted with the government. Today, 2,200 hospitals have been enlisted, she adds. The details of beds were initially given in an excel sheet with the help of government officials; then, a system was put in place. Around 10 a.m. every day, the volunteers would start calling hospitals that had not updated their bed position. They often found the hospitals either did not know how to update or forgot to do so. When she started out, 700 of the 1,000 hospitals would not have updated their bed position. Now that number has fallen to 120-150, she says.

The platform is open to chartered accountants nationwide. The only criterion is that they should speak Tamil as the personnel manning the hospitals are conversant only with Tamil. On August 14, the volunteers completed 104 days.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 2:49:12 AM |

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