LOS ANGELES - As COVID-19 rages across India, the staggering health emergency there is reverberating all the way to Los Angeles.
The country halfway across the globe from Los Angeles is in dire need of physicians. On Friday, I spoke to doctors who were born in India but immigrated to the U.S. They are torn wanting to offer medical help to India, yet knowing they can’t travel there during the surge.
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Both physicians practice medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Pooja Nawathe and Dr. Dechu Puliyanda expressed deep concern for loved ones in India. While they have family in the United States, they are still tied emotionally to India. Both their mothers live there.
Fundraising efforts by physicians for India have been successful. Puliyanda said a group she’s involved with has raised $20,000 in donations toward medical supplies for her village named Kodagu.
The desperately-needed supplies include oxygen concentrators and PPE equipment. In an extraordinary development, a makeshift COVID ward was opened in the village on Friday with the help of these funds. FOX 11 obtained exclusive video of the 30-bed facility, which is a lifeline for this community.
Dr. Puliyanda frames the addition in stark terms, "We went from having almost no cases to 42 deaths in the last six days."
In addition, Puliyanda has created educational videos in her native dialect which are shared with locals. However, it’s not just a lack of oxygen and hospital rooms that cripple medical efforts; in some cases, it’s a lack of knowledge. Puliyanda says in her village some people believe you can prevent COVID-19 by boiling water or eating garlic. She’s working hard to dispel those myths on video messages carried on WhatsApp.
In the meantime, fundraising efforts continue across the globe. Dr. Puliyanda is asking the community to check out Kodava Koota and Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement of North America if they can provide the much-needed help.
Cedars Sinai has spearheaded an effort to combat India’s COVID-19 crisis online through Direct Relief. Cedars will match employee donations dollar for dollar up to $25,000.