Special Guest Writer
The Very Rev. Dr. Caroline Carson
Dean, Atlantic Convocation, Diocese of NJ
Rector, Holy Innocents’ Beach Haven
Dear Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of New Jersey,
I know many are concerned about the Covid-19 crisis in India. Indeed, the world has been watching. I thought I’d share something I’m doing to respond that might be of interest. If anyone has any questions or would like to review and join the effort, feel free to contact me.
I’m an international board member of The Rambo Committee, which supports the Christian Hospital Mungeli (CHM) in the rural and poorest state of Chhattisgarh, known as “The Rice Bowl.” I did some mission work with the hospital and the English grade school there for many months in 2014 and 2015 and have stayed in touch.
What am I doing? It began as simply boosting their social media posts and establishing an online presence for them. I run their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and help with website (not much lately though!) It has morphed into spreading hope, raising money for needed vaccines, and holding Zoom meetings with the new doctors and staff of the hospital. Though a world apart, we work together to raise awareness in the tribal villages surrounding CHM and have generated plans to hold vaccine fairs, similar to how our Diocese of New Jersey has tried to ensure everyone can have access to a vaccine if they choose to have it. Nationally, there has been conflicting information about the efficacy of vaccines and this has done harm, confusing the people. I also learned that while many vaccines are free, those are given from the government to state hospitals and not to rural, mission hospitals. So, we have been working with churches connected to Global Ministries to raise awareness and funding for the COVAX and Remdesivir vaccines.
CHM’s success in fighting Covid has also been due to the availability of Remdesivir, a very expensive treatment. The cost is $60 USD for a single treatment; the average Covid patient requires about 6 treatments at $366 USD. Most patients do not have the ability to pay leaving the hospital to cover this very expensive but crucial drug. CHM has been given government approval to administer the Rapid Antigen test at a cost to the hospital of approximately $4 USD per test. While a Covid vaccine is free, the cost to take it to the most rural areas is not.
If you would like to donate to help Christian Hospital Mungeli fight Covid, you may do so knowing 100% of your tax exempt donation to the Rambo Committee will go to providing immediate financial support to CHM.
Critical supplies of oxygen also run out in many places across India. CHM can treat many Covid patients a day in their ICU, due in part to having the only oxygen generator in the region, funded by a USAID / ASHA award to Rambo Committee, Inc. A new doctor on staff, Dr. Sapan Kumar, is a Pulmonologist and has been a crucial lifesaver there.
So, the little bit that I can do is just that, but oftentimes, I find that those little “drops-in-a-bucket” end up creating a wave of difference in many lives. It’s also a nice thing to simply be connected to a place that is dear to my heart and see the new beginnings forming there out of love for people. Certainly, there are other and larger organizations, but this is what I do.
A Story from Dr. Sapan
The Face of Covid in Rural India
This is the story of Mr. Uttam, who is a father of five and was admitted in Christian Hospital Mungeli. He was referred to us with a saturation of 34% on 7 lit/min Oxygen. Mr. Uttam was started on non-invasive ventilation on which he was managed for more than two weeks. Non-invasive ventilation was discontinued once he improved, but after two days, his breathlessness increased. Non-invasive ventilation couldn’t be restarted since it has already been used on a sick patient. By the grace of God, after a day we received our first set of BIPAP (a kind of small ventilator). There was a delay in transportation of the machines due to the lockdown and the tropical cyclone but we finally received them just on time for Mr. Uttam. He was soon started on the machine with which he felt much relief. Currently he is improving on BIPAP. We wish him a speedy recovery. The new BIPAP machines are an important part of treatment of moderate and severe Covid patients and we wish to help many more like Mr. Uttam with the machine.
We also want to thank all those who have constantly kept us in their prayers without which we wouldn’t have been able to do the good deeds.
Dr. Priyamvada and Dr. Sapan
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes, D.D.
12th Bishop of New Jersey