Nearly 100,000 Physicians of Indian origin in the United States serve every seventh patient across the United States – This powerful statistic shared by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Vice president of AAPIUSA at a recent teleconference, underscores the significant numbers of Indian American medical professionals involved in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
“While COVID-19 continues to disrupt life around the globe, AAPI is committed to helping its tens of thousands of members across the US and others across the globe,” said Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI. “We do acknowledge that these are challenging times, more than ever for us, physicians, who are on the frontline to assess, diagnose and treat people who are affected by this deadly pandemic, COVID-19. Many of our colleagues have sacrificed their lives in order to save those impacted by this pandemic around the world.”
The numbers are grim. Coronavirus deaths in the US are over 3000 (exceeding the initial death toll of September 11), while over 175,000 people have tested positive for the virus – more than double that announced by China.
In response to the pandemic, AAPI has embarked on several initiatives, the most effective being a twice weekly conference call attended by over 2,000 physicians from across the United States, to share expertise and best care practices with other professionals from the healthcare sector.
Nearly 200,000 Indian students in the US are impacted by the pandemic, said Anurag Kumar, Minister of Community Affairs, who outlined efforts to give them assistance.
“We are coordinating with the community and hotels owned by AAHOA members in arranging accommodation for students, “ he said. “Everyone is advised not to travel abroad and back to India, stay where you are until things get better.”
Speakers on the forum highlighted the need for the people to recognize that Covid-19 is an aggressive type of virus. “Everyone needs to take appropriate precautions. Even if symptoms are negative, one is likely they carry symptoms,” advised Dr. Bharat Barai.
Social distancing matters cautioned Dr. Prasad Garimella, a critical care medicine specialist . “Social distancing is not isolating. Keep in touch with loved ones. Stay busy and stay connected. Filter and assess the news, look for credible sources to rely upon. Everyone needs to act like a health care professional and need to have the best attitude in order to defeat this deadly virus.”
Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Arunachalam Einstein endorsed self-quarantine and masks as a way to prevent spreading. “Go out only for essential things,” he advised. “ Everyone coming to ED symptomatic and non-symptomatic and the staff must wear mask, which will prevent droplets from affecting others. Even when going out to grocery shopping use masks.”
Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, expressed concern about the adverse effect of inadequate testing for at risk seniors, as well as for physicians and healthcare workers fighting infection on the frontlines, stating “It’s essential to create a wholesale expansion of free COVID-19 testing available in order for identifying asymptomatic carries and then isolating them.”
A rising number of people across age groups are affected by the highly infectious virus, said Dr. Usha Rani Karumudii, an infectious disease specialist, reporting that “People of all ages are prone to the disease. Hand hygiene and social distancing will help prevent. Precautions while shopping, reduce trips. wash and decontaminate hands after going out.”
AAPI also has launched a DONATE A MASK PROGRAM – a major initiative to protect the medical fraternity as they combat the “rakshas” virus. Members were requested to donate generously to fight “this ferocious virus which has put basic existence of entire human race at stake.”
A severe shortage of GS masks and other protective gear is impacting “the foot soldiers and front line physicians,” some of whom have succumbed to the deadly virus. A donation box labelled “DONATE A MASK,” has been added to the AAPI website ands a task force established to identify hospitals and direct supplies of Masks/PPE.
Updates on AAPI initiatives can be found at www.appiusa.org