Even as the process of unlocking has begun albeit with cautions of a probable third wave of Covid-19, two things have come to the fore_i.e. strategic planning and effective communication__ which have been largely helpful in containing the damage during the peak of the second wave of the pandemic. Needless to say, NTPC Ltd. had realised this at the very beginning of the second wave and thus began its Covid Control Rooms across its projects including many remote locations to withstand this humanitarian crisis.
The result of this foresighted initiative talks volumes about effective management of Covid positive patients even in remote locations, restricting Covid +ve cases to bare minimum and continuing with uninterrupted supply of electricity to the nation which was more vital during this critical times.
We immediately help any distressed or panic-stricken caller who reaches out to us after showing Covid symptoms. Our job is to carefully jot down their concerns and details and try to lessen their panic, says Shri Virender Pratap Singh, an employee in NTPC’s HR department posted in Darlipali project in Odisha.
Shri Singh responds to numerous such panic or distressed phone calls from individuals showing symptoms of Covid. The initial few seconds of the call involves matching the details with the checklist provided by the medical department followed by comforting words to calm the caller down. “The checklist ensures that no crucial details regarding the health of the infected individuals are missed. We share the details with the medical department and also follow up with the employee’s family members and ensure that they are calm and composed,” adds Shri Singh.
Shri Singh is one of NTPC employees who has been assigned to be a part of the Covid task force teams at different stations. By setting up ‘Covid Control Rooms’ in each project and station, NTPC aims to provide unrestricted access to the right information on Covid care on a real-time basis. In the Covid Control Rooms, there are 3 teams : one team arranges medicines, one team is in touch with empanelled and non– empanelled hospitals to inquire about the availability of beds and another team ensures all medical requirements of patients – big or small, are met.
A typical day in a Covid Control Room would revolve around the exchange of crucial information and counselling. The daily activities of the Control room involve updating the log of vitals of those affected, providing prompt consultation, delivering medicines, groceries & meals at the doorstep, providing counselling and psychological support to the bereaved and taking care of requirements related to transportation or cremation. The team is on their toes 24×7 to promptly address every need of our affected employees & their family members.
“Initially, it was very difficult for us in the NCR region, resources were scarce and getting help was challenging. We had to prioritise cases to ensure the maximum number of people get the resources on time,” recalls Puja Kumari, Sr Manager (HR), another member of the Covid taskforce.
She describes how during the second wave, the task force has done everything in its power to ensure the well-being of the patients. “Right from the time when we get the first call till the time the patient fully recovers, we constantly monitor and are in touch with the patients/their family,” she adds.
“Sir/Madam, the essentials will be delivered within 10 minutes at your doorstep”, became the most popular phrase of the COVID task force at NTPC’s Simhadri unit in Andhra Pradesh. The COVID e-control room team at NTPC Simhadri is one step ahead by ensuring timely supplies of medicines and essentials and by constantly following up with patients.
Shri S. N. Panigrahi, AGM (HR) and the chairman of ‘Voluntary Steering Committee’ for COVID-19 at NTPC Tanda in Uttar Pradesh talks in detail about the inner workings of the task force. “Our task force comprises of 8 members and a few outsourced staff. We find beds in hospitals for those who require intensive care”, he says adding “Our daily activities involve updating the log of vitals of those affected, providing prompt consultation, delivering medicines, groceries & meals at the doorstep, providing counselling and psychological support to the bereaved and taking care of requirements related to transportation or cremation.”
Going further, the Control Room played a crucial role in making arrangements for hiring of air ambulance for shifting of critical patients from remote projects to super specialty hospitals on case to case basis considering the criticality.
It was completely a team exercise all working with a mission to not let go any opportunity to save people in this critical times, be it through arranging crucial medicines/injections/ equipment for our Covid Care Centres across projects or by finding a bed in a city-based hospital for critical pateints or even making frantic calls to air ambulance service providers and completing necessary formalities required for airlifting in marathon speed, observed a member of the Task Force team constituted at apex level.
The medical and related workforces across India are bearing the brunt of the second wave of Covid-19. In this challenging and panic-driven situation, NTPC’s initiative comes as a rescue and aims at not only proactively churning out only verified information but also delivering it right at the doorstep of the individual.