CMC – COVID Response – Since May 2020

With the pandemic raging on and hundreds of socio-economically disadvantaged people more at risk from dying of hunger than from a virus attack, CMC Vellore took up the fight against hunger as an integral component of its response to combat COVID-19. 

The Department of Community Health, based in Bagayam, provides primary care to the rural and semi-urban communities of the Kaniyambadi Block as well as to the tribals of Jawadhi hills. For 75 people in the rural areas, rice, dhal, sugar, tea and spices, enough to last two weeks, were bought with contributions from within the department.  This was packed into individual packets and over two days, handed over to the needy, after procuring the necessary permissions. In the tribal areas, a similar strategy was followed and with support from individual donors from within CMC and a local Christian trust, provisions were supplied to about 350 individuals.

RUHSA 

The Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUHSA), which caters to the backward K. V. Kuppam Block, provided meals to 129 people in six elderly centres from the second half of April to May. Dry rations were supplied to 132 elderly, to 295 poor families and to 33 families with a disabled person. Further detailed assessment is underway to identify those with continuing need, who will be supported in Phase 2, planned for the next two months, through funds from the CBM. 

LCECU

The Low-Cost Effective Care Unit (LCECU) of the Department of Family Medicine, which caters to the slum-dwellers of Vellore, started to deliver 85 packed lunches every day from the 31st of March.  The Hope House, an NGO, and Papa’s House, a local church, provided the lunches. After a short time, with help from the Thrupti Foundation and a group of alumni from Ida Scudder School, this was scaled up to 400 packets a day, which continued till mid-April. From mid-April to the first week of May, the Foundation provided food for 350 people. These packets were distributed to three low-income areas through the Unit’s community volunteers. Recently, a group of young CMC doctors have joined the effort, preparing 30 more lunches a day. 

As the lockdown progressed, food could no longer be delivered to many areas. Dry rations were then made available to community volunteers. A variety of simple meals were prepared in community kitchens using these and people in the area would come and collect the hot food.  At the peak of the restrictions, the LCECU was able to facilitate the provision of food for upto 600 people on a daily basis.  

Manna Mid-day Meal Scheme

From the very first day of the lockdown, the Manna Mid-day Meal Scheme, funded by current and ex-staff of the institution, was scaled up to respond to the needs of outpatients as well as inpatients and relatives, who were stranded in Vellore. The institutional Good Samaritan Canteen, which was making the food, was quick to accommodate the additional food requirement even though the number of staff had reduced to one-third, and the procurement of ingredients had become increasingly difficult. 

Patient and relatives in need, in OP and IP areas, as well as carers in quarantine, were identified by the staff and free food arranged. A patient and his/her two attenders are eligible for six meal coupons in a day. From March 24th till date, around 13,000 free coupons have been distributed through the scheme. It came to the notice of the Missions Department, which runs the Scheme, that there were people who needed self-cooked food due to health reasons.