“For making India COVID free, our authorities have been working on war footing. In our view, in collaboration with public and private healthcare players, they must also consider expanding the purview of tests from hotspots, clusters and large migration gatherings,” feels Jayant Rajani, Vice President – Logistics, Admin & Infra Projects, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, during an exclusive interview with Team Celerity.
BEING IN THE FRONTLINE OF THIS PANDEMIC, WHAT HAVE BEEN THE CHALLENGES FACED BY PRIVATE PLAYERS AS THERE WERE LOT MANY DIRECTIVES THAT WERE BEING ALTERED ONE AFTER ANOTHER?
We are glad that we are able to partner with the government and support them in this universal fight against the spread and the containment of Covid-19. In our lifetimes, we are seeing pandemic like this for the first time. So, when it started to spread, across the globe, authorities were grappling as to how they need to tackle this. In India, from day one, the government measures were forthcoming and encompassing including the lockdown.
Initially, for expanding the testing capacity, when private labs were onboarded, we had anticipated few challenges. These challenges were to do with procurement of kits and transfer of samples. We had planned ahead on working through challenges and hence better positioned to overcome them.
For containing the spread – all private labs had lot of pressure to procure the kits especially when the supply was slow due to lockdown. Another challenge that we had to tackle was to adjust to government directives and compliance regarding testing. The situation was fluid, hence to suit the requirement, authorities were issuing new directives or were modifying the previous directives. This did result in confusion and different interpretations of the directives. In order to overcome this, we were constantly in touch with the authorities and were clarifying our doubts related to directives and then were adhering to the same.
HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SUCH CHALLENGES?
We are adhering to the guidelines that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued. We are using the ICMR approved sample collection kits. These kits have been helping us to give accurate results. Besides this, we are following the protocols which are laid for the transport of samples in special viral transport medium. We are also taking additional care to ensure adherence to bio-safety guidelines as well as reporting protocols to ICMR, state, and city authorities. I am proud to say that at Metropolis we have been able to maintain TAT, maintain sample integrity and maintain high quality protocol, thereby ensuring high reliability of our test reports. It is challenging to work during the lockdown, but the entire team came together to make it possible. As of today, we have five fully equipped COVID labs across the country. Our only goal is to support the government’s testing needs as much as possible; we can handle all the challenges.
HOW ARE YOU KEEPING THE TEAM MOTIVATED AT THE SAME TIME AS THIS IS HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS DISEASE?
Our team is faced with various challenges right from dealing with the risk of pathogen exposure, working for long hours, experiencing occupational distress as well as social stigma. It is very essential for us to keep their morale high. To ease their nerves, we have been constantly communicating with them, answering their questions, which have been stemming from the fear and anxiety about this new challenge. At the onset, our first priority was to ensure their and their families’ safety and security. To minimize their contact with other family members, we have arranged their accommodation in hotels.
We are very proud of all our staff who are working diligently as one integrated team; and are glad to inform you that not even a single phlebotomist or logistics associate has backed out from his duty.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE SCENARIO LOOK LIKE IN THE NEAR FUTURE? HOW ARE YOU BRACING FOR THE CHANGING TIMES?
There are over 130 designated RED ZONES in India. It is important to scale up testing to flatten the curve in the identified cities and districts. Large private laboratories have the capacity to conduct between 800-1500 tests a day and this can be scaled up 10x with a few innovative measures. Our current capacity is to handle 1500-2000 tests in a day which can be scaled up to 4000 tests a day soon. The best way forward for all of us is to continue to work in tandem and overcome this mammoth challenge.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT TO EFFICIENTLY HANDLE THE PANDEMIC THROUGH AN EFFICIENT SUPPLY CHAIN?
For making India COVID free, our authorities have been working on war footing. In our view, in collaboration with public and private healthcare players, they must also consider expanding the purview of tests from hotspots, clusters and large migration gatherings. One way for ensuring the expansion of purview is to tests individuals who are showing signs of influenza-like disease.