As bequests go, this one beats the others for size: A 60-bed hospital founded 37 years ago by a lady gynaecologist located in Mettupalayam town on the foothills of the Nigliris with a staff of nearly 120 persons. When Dr. Maheswaran rang up the chief medical officer of the Meetupalayama Government Hospital and offered his entire hospital and its services free of charge for admitting and treating coronavirus patients, there was stunned silence at the other end.

“At first he would not believe it. I told him I was serious and followed it up with an official letter to the CMO and the district collector of Coimbatore. I could keep just a few beds for deliveries and free up the remaining with all necessary support system for Covid-19 treatment,” proposed Maheswaran, a paediatrician.

But government officials replied that treatment of coronavirus was being restricted to government hospitals as per the state health ministry’s protocol. So even when 21 Tablighi Jamaat returnees from Mettupalayam tested positive they were housed in the GH and the ESI hospital. The authorities informed Dr. Maheswaran that they would refer their other emergency patients–like childbirth or poisoning cases–to his hospital if there was a need.

Determined to help in the now-billowing crisis, Maheswaran, 50, came up with another offer–since the 25 doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients at the Mettupalayam GH, which is near his Supa hospital, may find the commute between their homes and the GH tiring, they could stay in his hospital. He followed up the offer by freeing up an entire floor of his hospital for use by the medical staff.

“We provide food and other ref­reshments and take care of their laundry, so they would need to concentrate only on their work. When they want to visit their families we take them in our ambulance,” explains the good doctor.


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