TAMPA, Fla. — Ajay Joshi knows firsthand how bad things are right now in India. He works in telemedicine, lives near the city of Chandigarh and is COVID-19 positive.
“Nobody wants anybody to die but people are dying in their cars,” he said.
Joshi explained it’s because the hospitals are so overrun with patients they can’t keep up. There are not enough beds and there’s not enough oxygen. He says doctors and nurses are working overtime in a county with a population 4 times that of the US with 1.3 billion people.
“They are being left to decide, it is not God, they have to decide who’s going to live and who’s not going to live and that’s a very short period of time they have to decide,” he said.
Before this second wave and with limited government rules, Joshi says people became extremely complacent and let their guards down. He says there was no social distancing.
“We were celebrating our festivals, going out, markets were open, the shops were open and we really had thought this was over but actually it was not over,” he said.
“Every city was fully aware of the consequences of mingling, partying, going to temples and going to shops, etc. So, I think there should be a shared responsibility,” said Dr. Kiran C. Patel, a cardiologist in the bay area who also has hospitals in India.
He says they’re treating around 400 patients a day at the hospitals he owns. He believes overall the country is managing the crisis well and says infrastructure is playing a role in the lack of oxygen concentrators.
“There is a need for money, medication, respirators, supplies,” he said.
Only about 10% of people in India are insured, according to Dr. Patel. It’s why about 275 of the patients his hospitals are caring for aren’t paying a dime for medical services.
“I cannot take 100% credit for that, but it is with a strong partnership with the government that we are able to take care of that many patients without any fees,” he said.
Dr. Patel also believes the country is on the mend but says it can absolutely use all the help it can get.
Joshi says while India is one of the largest pharmaceutical producing countries in the world, they can’t produce Oxygen concentrators, which is what they need the most right now.
“They should help us, people are dying on the streets without oxygen, we need those oxygen concentrators, we need medicines, we need drugs which would be really helpful," he said.
If you’d like to help, you can donate to Dr. Patel’s nonprofit organization, the Patel Foundation is in Tampa, you can e-mail Dr. Patel at Drkirancpatel@yahoo.com. The physical address of the non-profit is 5600 Mariner Street Ste 200.
Dr. Peter Patel with the Indian American Business Association in Orlando is also collecting donations to send to India.
“You can donate directly to the associations in India who are on the ground. We are foot on the ground where you can donate directly to save our international, care dot org, and we are also collecting funds and sending it to our distribution system in India,” he said.