‘Time is of the absolute essence’: RI doctors gathering medical supplies to ship to India


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Two Rhode Island doctors are determined to do everything they can to help their counterparts in India, who are struggling with a resurgence of COVID-19 that’s devastated the country.

Dr. Jinen Thakkar and Dr. Laura Forman, both from Kent Hospital, are actively organizing a cargo flight of medical supplies, which are running scarce in India.

“As a physician and as a human being, it’s incredibly hard to look at what’s going on in India right now and not do everything I possibly can to help,” Forman said.

During the height of the pandemic, Thakkar said hospitals in Rhode Island were quickly able to gather the supplies they needed to treat patients and protect staff.

But unfortunately, that isn’t the case in India.

“Hospitals have run out of beds, medications and oxygen to treat patients,” Thakkar said. “Patients are dying outside of hospitals, waiting for a bed, and health care workers are putting their lives in danger by working without necessary PPE. Family members are desperately trying to find oxygen cylinders and supplies for their sick loved ones.”

Forman said once they learned what was happening in India, she and Thakkar knew they had to act. That’s why they’re asking Rhode Islanders to either donate monetarily or send them any excess medical supplies they have.

“Having worked on the front lines in Rhode Island when we had the highest per capita number of COVID-19 cases in the world, at least among countries that were able to test and report them, we’ve been struck by the situation facing our colleagues and patients in India,” Forman said. “We wanted to do something to help and have had a flight donated.”

When it comes to shipping the donated supplies, Thakkar said, “Time is of the absolute essence.”

That’s why the doctors hope their plane will be full of medical supplies and on its way to India within two weeks.

Forman said they’re working with the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia Regional Office to ensure the supplies make it to India. She said it’s in the world’s best interest to help India stop the spread.

“Even if we all become vaccinated in the United States, if COVID rages through India there will be more variants and those will spread to the United States,” she said. “We have to help if we want to end the pandemic.”

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