In the wake of recent situation of COVID-19, it has become necessary to take concrete steps with pro-active approach to ensure proper arrangements at the hospitals for providing the best possible treatment and care to the COVID affected patients in the Railway Hospitals of Western Railway.

In this direction, Alok Kansal – General Manager, Western Railway took stock of the COVID preparedness, with special focus on availability of beds, Oxygen cylinders, essential medicines, other essential equipments alongwith the vaccination of railwaymen and their families through a video conferencing.

According to a press release issued by Sumit Thakur – Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railway, at the outset Alok Kansal said that we have dealt with this pandemic successfully last year and this experience on dealing with the pandemic should be emulated. He thereafter inquired about the availability of facilities including life-saving medicines and equipments at the railway hospitals of Western Railway to provide the best possible treatment to the railway officers, staff & their families in the recent situation. To avoid paucity of essential medicines, he emphasized on taking various measures for their timely procurement by reviewing the requirement from time to time.

GM also inquired about the stock of Remdesivir Injection Vials, Oxygen Cylinders and Ventilators, required for the treatment of critical patients. Recently, an employee of W. Rly from Ratlam Division undergoing treatment in a private hospital was in dire need of the Actemra Injection. General Manager – W. Rly took immediate personal initiative and the medicine was instantly arranged on an urgent basis, bringing much relief to the patient and his family.

Thakur stated that, GM Kansal also discussed regarding the status of the vaccination drive being conducted across all the Divisions. He was apprised that around 20989 eligible employees i.e 44% of the total eligible employees of approx. 47,031 have been administered with COVID vaccine and administering of the 2nd dose of the vaccine has also been started as per guidelines. Kansal instructed that vaccination should be given due importance for all the eligible employees at the earliest. He was informed that it is targeted to vaccinate all the eligible employees by the end of April, 2021.

GM further instructed all Chief Medical Superintendents (CMS) to keep handy a ready data on the availability of beds with Government Hospitals and Private Hospitals in their jurisdiction and also to check the possibility of admission of patients in private hospitals on Government rates, if required. Kansal also suggested necessary tie-up with NGOs that have set up Isolation beds in large covered areas, as was the case last year.

Similarly, he directed that proper coordination with Hospitals/ concerned agencies should be maintained for uninterrupted supply of oxygen cylinders and that the frequency of refilling should be increased, as the need arises. Also, adequate indent for Remdesivir vials to be placed with State Government to meet the demand as per the situation. He stressed upon setting up RT-PCR Testing Camps & Vaccination Booths at Railway colonies and offices where there is sufficient number of eligible employees. This will help in controlling the spread of disease to a great extent. He instructed that all efforts must be initiated to ensure that proper help and medication should be reached to each and every affected employee and their family members.

At Jagjivan Ram Hospital, the Zonal Hospital of Western Railway, three floors have been converted and dedicated for treatment of COVID patients with 20 Ventilators. At present, 148 COVID patients are admitted in JRH & undergoing treatment. PPE kits and N – 95 masks have been provided to doctors & paramedical staff. Till date, 4213 COVID patients have been treated in JRH. Appreciating the hardwork, dedication & service of railway doctors & paramedical staff, Kansal encouraged them to continue their fight against the virus with the same zeal & spirit. He also assured all possible assistance to them.

Western Railway has also sent letters to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) as well as to the Principal Secretaries of the State Government for maximum assistance with regards to provision of necessary vials for vaccination, life saving medicines and equipments. At Headquarter level, Additional General Manager and at Divisional level, respective Divisional Railway Managers have been nominated as nodal officers for coordination with Central & State Govts. as well as local administration in this regard.

Western Railway has prepared 386 isolation coaches out of which 128 coaches are in Mumbai Division. Recently, as per the demand from District Administration, Nandurbar for providing assistance in care and treatment of COVID 19 patients. W. Rly has made provision for a 21-coach rake at Nandurbar railway station for hospitalization of COVID patients. Each coach can accommodate 16 patients & more than 20 patients have been admitted so far. These coaches are equipped with two oxygen cylinders, dustbins per coach & bed rolls, pillows, napkins for each patient. Also, there is one bathroom and three toilets per coach with proper watering arrangements. To beat the summer heat, the roofs of the coaches are covered with jute bags which are sprinkled with water regularly. In addition to it, coolers are provided for the coaches to bring the temperature down. A separate room for changing PPE kits for doctors and lady medical personnel have also been provided. These coaches are manned by doctors, paramedics & other staff deployed by the district administration.

Speaking about the various measures adopted for creating awareness on Covid Appropriate Behaviour, Thakur informed that Western Railway is conducting regular Announcements as well as extensive awareness campaigns on Covid Appropriate Behaviour and Covid Health Protocols through attractive infographics, webcards, e – posters & videos on social media platforms and digital screens at stations.

In view of the current COVID -19 situation, to ensure wearing of face masks/face cover by all persons at railway premises (including trains), fines up to Rs. 500 under Indian Railways (Penalties for activities affecting cleanliness at Railway Premise) Rules, 2012 by nominated Railway Authorities has been implemented to penalize persons not wearing face mask/cover in Railway premises & trains and those resorting to spitting.

Thakur further informed that security measures have been increased at stations as well as in trains. Adequate RPF Bandobast have been deployed at major stations of WR to help & guide passengers. RPF/GRP personnel have been deployed to streamline the inflow of passengers and for crowd management. All entry and Exit Points of stations are properly manned by the station staff alongwith RPF/ GRP personnel. COVID-19 appropriate protocol, as determined by the respective state governments, is being ensured. Thermal screening of passengers boarding the trains is carried out at 28 stations over WR by RPF staff deployed at Entry Points.

Special awareness drives are also being organized by RPF personnel at stations for motivating the passengers to follow the norms, protocols & SOP related to COVID – 19 including maintaining social distancing & wearing of masks while travelling in trains. Ticket checking has also been intensified to curb unauthorised passengers.

The video conference was attended by Additional General Manager, Principal Chief Medical Director, Principal Chief Materials Manager, Principal Financial Advisor, Divisional Railway Managers of all six Divisions, Deputy General Manager (General) as well as all Chief Medical Superintendents.

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