The 24-hour helpline, 8939911411, is an initiative of the IMA, Vellore branch and CMC, with the support of alumni from VIT
To help and guide COVID-19 patients in Vellore, Ranipet and Tirupathur districts, doctors from the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Vellore branch, Christian Medical College (CMC) and alumni of Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), have come together to start a remote helpline called IMAi (eyelids).
The 24-hour helpline number, 8939911411, with the tagline ‘We Care, We Are There’ was started on May 19 and has attended to over 2,000 calls to date. A total of 80 volunteers and 36 doctors from IMA and CMC are part of this initiative.
“We all work from homes or hospitals. Every three hours, the shift changes and in each shift there are three volunteers and two doctors,” said T. Madan Mohan, president, Vellore IMA.
Dr. Madan, along with S. Narmada project coordinator and IMA, Vellore vice president and T. Nailesh, secretary, IMA Vellore, conceived of the project. “Our aim is to help and guide patients who have tested COVID-19 positive. Once they call the helpline, they will be guided by an IVRS until a volunteer attends the call and answers their queries. If the caller needs help regarding medicines, the doctor will take over and guide them,” said Dr. Madan.
An app was developed by Thryve Digital for effective functioning of the call centre, and VIT alumni offered the technical support and created awareness material. “All calls are routed through the call centre and sent to the doctors and volunteers on duty. The calls are mostly for bed and oxygen requirements, ambulance help, food and home quarantine support and vaccination,” said Jayashree Lakshman, a member of IMA.
The doctors have a WhatsApp group with one nodal person from every hospital in the combined Vellore district. “We first understand the condition of the patient. Only if he/she is in dire need of an oxygen bed, do we coordinate with the partner hospital on bed availability and guide him/her there. Otherwise we advise home quarantine. This reduces rush in the hospitals too,” said Dr. Madan.
The doctors and volunteers also create awareness on COVID-19 vaccination.