EHA Coronavirus Response

Emmanuel Hospital Association / EHA Coronavirus Response

EHA is doing all it can to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus in North India. To read about their efforts, scroll down to the stories below. To help EHA purchase needed supplies and equipment during this crisis, you can support them with an online gift, TEXT-TO-GIVE at 847-750-4433, or mail in a check. Click the button below for more information.


COVID-19 Update

India has crossed the 9.4 million mark of COVID-19 cases and is currently adding 40,000 cases a day, down from 97,000 ten weeks ago. Almost 138,000 Indians have died.

EHA continues to help in any way they can—caring for people’s medical needs and looking out for the poor. Many of EHA’s hospitals are struggling financially due to low patient numbers. Any gift you can send will help them stay in operation, taking care of those who most need help.

Teenager Gains Awareness

A typical teenage boy, Anand Prajapati faced the pandemic with very little understanding of the risks. Then he participated in an awareness session run by the Prerana project from Chhatarpur Christian Hospital. The staff taught him the importance of proper handwashing techniques, using a face mask, and maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in his community. Anand immediately went home and shared his newfound knowledge with his younger sister Varsa and his parents, who are potters.

During a follow-up visit with the Prerana team, Anand was happy to share that before their teaching, he lacked awareness about the risks of COVID-19. He would go to events without a face mask, shake hands with his friends and others, and even eat snacks from the market without washing his hands. Now he is being mindful and encouraging others in his community to prevent the spread of the virus. The Prerana team is encouraged and motivated to see such behavioral changes in Anand and many other such teens in nearby communities.

COVID-19 Update

India has crossed the 7.8 million mark of COVID-19 cases and is currently adding 55,000 cases a day, down from 97,000 six weeks ago. Almost 118,000 Indians have died.

EHA continues to help in any way they can—caring for people’s medical needs and looking out for the poor. Many of EHA’s hospitals are struggling financially due to low patient numbers. Any gift you can send will help them stay in operation, taking care of those who most need help.

Preparing for a Pandemic

When the pandemic started, Herbertpur Christian Hospital staff wanted to be well prepared. With the financial help of some supporters, they constructed a covered area outside the main outpatient department to screen incoming patients for COVID-19 symptoms. No emergency patients have been sent directly to the ER, but have been seen in this outdoor triage area before admission.

Since there is no testing facility nearby, the staff never know for sure if the patients they are caring for are infected with COVID-19 or not. Since April, HCH has referred 314 suspected COVID-19 patients to the designated treatment facility in their area. They did unknowingly treat one COVID-19 positive patient in their ER, and as a result, seven of their staff had to be put in quarantine. Two other staff members contracted the virus, but not at the hospital. All in all, God has been good to HCH in their handling of the pandemic.

Meeting the Needs One Family at a Time

So many Indian families lost the sole source of their income when the country was locked down due to COVID-19. Having no savings, they quickly ran out of food. Herbertpur Christian Hospital developed a “needs assessment” form and conducted surveys with community families. In this way they were able to identify the families who were struggling the most, including older people, those with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS, and those living in slums.

Over the course of several months, they held a four-stage distribution of dry goods for hundreds of families. They also used tele-clinics to determine who was in need of medicine that they had lost access to in the lockdown. Working with the local authorities, they were able to be a blessing to many people in meeting these basic needs.

COVID-19 Update

As of the end of August, India has crossed the 3.3 million mark of COVID-19 cases, and they are currently adding almost 70,000 cases a day! 60,000 Indians have died.

EHA continues to help in any way they can—caring for people’s medical needs and looking out for the poor in various ways. Some of the hospitals are extra busy because other facilities are closed, and some are struggling to make ends meet because patient numbers are so low.

Please help EHA in this incredibly difficult time with any gift you are able to send. It will help buy PPE, food, and equipment, as well as assist in the payment of staff salaries.

Experiencing COVID-19 Effects at HBMH

Since most of the hospitals in the Lalitpur area (in central India) are currently closed, Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital (HBMH) staff have been unexpectedly busy. For the last several weeks, they have been averaging 2 or 3 caesareans each day, often at night, giving little rest to the surgical staff, Dr. Madhurita (the anesthetist), and Dr. Rachel (the obstetrician). Many other types of patients are showing up at HBMH’s door for medical care since there is nowhere else to go. While they are very thankful for the increased income that additional patients bring, it is difficult for their limited staff to keep up.

Until a few weeks ago, they had only had one COVID-19 case in their area, but now they are experiencing a spike of over 100 cases and 3 deaths. It is easy to feel that the situation is out of control and that they are more at risk than ever, but they ask for prayer that the situation would simmer down.

The leadership at HBMH are grateful that two staff and a junior doctor who were stuck elsewhere when the lockdown was put into place have been able to return. So far, none of their staff have been infected with COVID-19. They are also thankful to Daniel Hendrix, a US audiologist, who was visiting in March and who has stayed to help set up an audiology department. As with most EHA hospitals, HBMH leadership need more staff in all areas. Another recent accomplishment was the setting up of an effluent water treatment plant required by the government to ensure they are releasing treated water back to the water table.

India Seeing Over 15,000 New COVID-19 Cases Daily

The Update
As of June 22, India has 440,450 COVID-19 cases countrywide—almost triple the count since our last e-newsletter a month ago. The daily count of new cases has crept over 15,000, with only Brazil and the US adding more cases daily. There have been 14,015 deaths reported so far. The largest number of cases are found in metropolitan areas like Delhi and Mumbai. Testing is severely limited, but in a country of nearly 1.4 billion, the numbers could be a lot worse.

The Response
The Indian authorities have designated hospitals as either COVID-19 facilities or non-COVID-19 hospitals. Seven of EHA’s hospitals are COVID-19 facilities, but so far the districts where EHA is located have not had heavy outbreaks of the virus; only one or two EHA hospitals have treated COVID-19 patients from diagnosis to release. EHA locations have not been designated to conduct COVID-19 testing, so when EHA staff have a patient with flu-like symptoms, they give them some treatment but then are instructed to send them to a government testing facility. Many patients have been sent for testing, but the outcomes are unknown.

God has kept all of EHA’s staff healthy through this pandemic. Most of the hospitals have only been able to pay partial salaries to their staff members for several months because patient numbers are so low due to the lockdown and fear of contact. Patients who need regular care and medication are struggling to get it.

Many EHA projects are still distributing food to those most in need. The finances to do so are dwindling. Project staff are looking into addressing the long-term issues of reducing poverty, joblessness, and migration of workers looking for jobs.

Madhipura Christian Hospital Helps 2,685 Families

6.18.20 Madhipura Christian Hospital, Madhipura, Bihar, North India

Madhipura Christian Hospital has had a wide impact in caring for challenged families during the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. This hospital has exceeded its goal in caring for hungry families during the crisis, reaching nearly 3,000 families with food packs designed to meet the needs of a family of five for a month.

“This has been possible only through the wonderful generosity of God’s people throughout the world. At around $27 per family, our limited resources have been stretched unbelievably, like the widow’s oil in the story of Elisha. God is a miracle-working God and we are so grateful to every person He has used to bless us with their love, prayers, and support.

Our initial target of 500 families has been exceeded many times over and we hope to cross 3,000 this week. We are now planning longer-term livelihood programs to build on what has been started among these poor people. May God bless all of you and also the continued work here in Madhipura.”

~ Dr. Arpit Mathew Jacob, Managing Director and Senior Administrative Officer

Experiencing COVID-19 Runaround

6.16.20 Broadwell Christian Hospital, Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh, North India

Dr. Jeodoss A leads Broadwell Christian Hospital in India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh (population 199 million).

“Our district’s population is close to 3 million, and we have recorded about 100 COVID-19 cases.

Last week, we admitted an asymptomatic woman in labor, and her delivery was uncomplicated. Fifteen minutes after delivery, she developed breathlessness, a bad cough, and her oxygen saturation dropped to 75 percent. We put her on a CPAP machine, and she stabilized within an hour.

Following protocol, we referred her to the district hospital less than a mile away. They refused her admission and sent her back to us. The district’s Chief Medical Officer said we should admit her and have her tested, but we asked that they take responsibility for the testing due to costs. He wanted our technician to go get the sampling kit from the government hospital, but our tech was bounced around from office to office and then sent back empty handed.

The next day we received a testing kit. We took the sample and sent it back. To our surprise, the officer offered to test 10 of our staff, so we collected samples and sent them in. We are still waiting for the results. Nothing is simple here.

We have been selected as a Level 2 COVID-19 facility, which means we should have 75 beds, 12 anesthesiologists, 6 physicians, and at least 10 ventilators. This kind of set up is only found in medical colleges, and we do not have one in our district. In reality, we have 5 ventilators in our district of 3 million and 2 to 4 anesthesiologists. The officials are hoping not to have to deal with COVID-19 cases, but simply send them to medical colleges in neighboring districts. But what about when they get overwhelmed? We fear that they will come to us at the last minute and expect more than we can provide.

Please pray for these government officials to see the need to work together and communicate openly. Pray for understanding on what our hospital is capable of, and for the district to also provide manpower and supplies when needed.”

~ Dr. Jeodoss A, Managing Director and Senior Administrative Officer

“Disease and Death Are Commonplace Here”

6.12.20 Chinchpada Christian Hospital, Chinchpada, Maharashtra, Central India

Chinchpada Christian Hospital is led by Dr. Deepak Singh and his wife, Dr. Ashita. Located in Maharashtra, Chinchpada serves a mostly poor population of farmers.

“The state of Maharashtra has had more cases (132,000) than any other, and 6,170 deaths. Our district has had 45 positive cases so far, all of which were treated at the government district hospital. These COVID-19 patients seem to have been mild to moderately sick. We’ve only had one death in our district.

With the monsoon rains coming, our biggest needs are a covered walkway for patients and a temporary shed for the flu clinic (which would cost $1,300 each).

Fear and anxiety are very prevalent here. Many have lost their livelihoods. Some patients have been brought into our hospital with deliberate self harm. There is a strange mix of being unaffected by the pandemic and having fear of death and disease at the same time. Life here is not taken that seriously due to how commonplace disease and death are.

We have adopted 500 families and brought food packages to them in April and May. We are working on our third cycle of distribution.

Thank you for your support and prayers.”

~ Dr. Deepak Singh, Senior Administrative Officer

India Seeing 6-7000 New COVID-19 Cases Daily

The Update
As of May 27, India has 152,000 COVID-19 cases countrywide—in the last week the total has risen 6,000-7,000 each day. There have been 4,337 deaths reported so far. Over a third of the cases and deaths have occurred in the state of Maharashtra where Chinchpada Christian Hospital and GM Priya Hospital are located.

The Response
EHA staff continue to distribute food and essentials to those in need despite the dramatic loss of income the hospitals are experiencing due to lack of patients. Many locations have begun a second round of food distribution, focusing on those most in need—people with disabilities, widows, pregnant women, and palliative care patients.

All of EHA’s hospitals are open; seven have been designated as COVID-19 facilities despite their lack of equipment and protective gear. Many patients are struggling to get needed non-COVID care and medications, and EHA is doing its part to provide medical care to all. Please keep them in your prayers.

Sanitizing Service Provided

5.26.20 Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, operating in disaster-prone areas within India

EHA’s disaster team has long partnered with Free Will Baptist Society (FWBS) on community projects. Recently someone gave FWBS two sprayers, so the two groups teamed up to sanitize the block office, the police station, and areas of the marketplace. Concern is rising as migrant laborers are returning to their villages, potentially bringing COVID-19 with them. Pray for these teams’ safety and for more resources to help communities during this humanitarian crisis.

Appreciating Mission Partners and District Leaders

5.26.20 Sewa Bhawan Hospital, Jagdeeshpur, Chhattisgarh, Central India

“We are so thankful for several organizations who worked together to provide us with a good number of PPEs and surgical masks at a subsidized rate. Here we are, a struggling mission hospital in a rural village of Mahasamund, and we are being well taken care of by our mission partners!

On May 25 we started our second phase of food distribution, targeting 500 families and focusing on 14 tribal villages in Basna, Pithora, and Kasdol. Our first phase served 390 families, with the government providing the rice and our team adding other foods, medicine, and hygiene kits—all given out to the elderly, widows, those with disabilities, palliative care and mental health patients, and the poor and needy.

One of the greatest struggles we’ve faced during this lockdown has been getting blood and oxygen to Sewa Bhawan from more than 60-100 miles away. We very much appreciate the district blood bank in Mahasamund for all the help they’ve extended to us. We also thank Champa Christian Hospital for their support.

Having a state and a district with sensible and sensitive leaders really makes a great difference. My homeland and the land where I now live are blessed with many such warriors. Saying prayers for the decision makers and frontline workers in India. Together we will win!”

~ Mrs. Merin Thomas, Senior Administrative Officer

Together We Can Conquer This Invisible Enemy

5.26.20 Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, operating in disaster-prone areas within India

EHA’s disaster team is also working with Free Will Baptist Society (FWBS) to supply food to those in need. So far, they have distributed dry goods to 340 families in Kishanganj District in Bihar. They are now on their second distribution of food kits. Their motto? “Together we can conquer this invisible enemy!”

Watch a video about it by clicking below.

5.24.20 Saved from Bonded Labor by a Food Kit

Mangal Rishidev, a widower with four young children, is from a very low caste. He used to travel as a migrant worker to Delhi or Punjab to earn money to feed his family, but when his wife died, he could no longer do that. He began seeking work in nearby villages as a day laborer.

When India went into lockdown with no warning, Mangal was unable to find work. Day laborers have no savings and no cushion to fall back on. His family did receive some rice from the public distribution system, but it was not enough to keep them alive for very long.

Mangal then went to a moneylender to ask for money to feed his children. In order to pay the money back with an exorbitant interest rate, Mangal was planning to sign up both himself and his 13-year-old daughter as bonded laborers.

As this was all unfolding, a team from Madhipura Christian Hospital came to Mangal’s village and asked for recommendations for families that needed emergency rations. The village committee included Mangal on the list, and when he received these food items (pictured), his heart was filled with happiness. Now he knew he could feed his family for at least the next month, and best of all, he would not need to get money from the moneylender or to sign up to work as a bonded laborer.

This emergency relief food kit saved Mangal and his family from serious hardship, and your gifts allowed it to happen!

Two Personal COVID-19 Stories

5.24.20 COVID-19 Warrior in Mahandernagar Slum

Guddi is a hardworking EHA community leader who lives in the Mahandernagar slum. She advocates for the rights of people with disabilities, widows, older people, and other residents.

One afternoon, Guddi went with her neighbor to purchase vegetables. On her way, she saw a woman without clothes standing on the side of the road (she had a psychosocial disorder). A few policemen standing there asked Guddi to get clothes for this woman, and they gave her a ride to do just that.

When they returned, Guddi took the woman aside to help her put on the clothes. Initially, she didn’t want to get dressed, but then decided to cooperate. Guddi had to overcome her own fears of being exposed to COVID-19 if this woman was positive. In the end, she helped the woman get dressed.

The woman told Guddi that her family had rejected her and removed her from their home because of her mental state. Guddi and the police took her back home and spoke with the family.

People with disabilities are at a greater risk of neglect, abuse, and potentially becoming infected with the coronavirus. Community leader Guddi, who provided clothing, treated the woman with dignity, and reunited her with her family (despite her own risk) is a COVID-19 warrior in the Mahandernagar slum.

EHA’s First Three COVID-19 Patients Have Recovered

The Update
The first three COVID-19 positive patients treated at an EHA hospital have recovered completely and been sent back home.

As of May 14, India has 78,003 COVID-19 cases countrywide—a 56% increase from a week ago (including 2,549 deaths). Despite this rise, India is easing its restrictions. On Tuesday, the national railway began a limited restart to operations. Concern is rising that travelers heading home will bring the virus with them.

The Response
EHA staff continue to distribute food and essentials to those in need. Shops are beginning to open as the lockdown is eased, but the supply of goods is inconsistent and the actions of desperate people are feared. All of the EHA hospitals are sending suspected cases to district facilities for testing. Since the lockdown, patient numbers are down to 20-40% of normal, and many EHA hospitals have been unable to pay staff salaries for at least a month.

Initially, only 3 EHA hospitals were designated as COVID-19 facilities, but now a total of 7 have been chosen (or are under consideration): Broadwell Christian Hospital, Chhatarpur Christian Hospital, Chinchpada Christian Hospital, Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital, Lakhnadon Christian Hospital, Nav Jivan Hospital, and Prem Sewa Hospital. Please keep them all in your prayers.

Easing of Lockdown May Spread Disease and Worsen Poverty and Crime Rates

5.9.20 Prem Sewa Hospital, Utraula, Uttar Pradesh, North India

“At Prem Sewa we are seeing many patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms, but we refer them to the nearest designated facility for testing and do not find out the outcome. Due to the lack of testing kits, we are unable to diagnose patients as being COVID-19 positive, which means that our state’s statistics are likely unreliable.

Our hospital has been recognized as a COVID-19 quarantine center with 10 beds set aside. We do not have enough resources to fight COVID-19 if an outbreak occurs. Prem Sewa has also been asked to handle all patients in the district who need gynecological, obstetric, or ophthalmic care.

Due to restrictions, only one person is allowed to travel on a two-wheeler, so most of our community outreach had to be stopped, and we now keep in contact with volunteers in each village by phone. Many of these communities have very vulnerable people groups, such as cancer patients, HIV patients, people with disabilities, and pregnant women.

As soon as the lockdown began, we worked with the local government and police officials to distribute dry goods, face masks, hygiene kits, and essential medicine to the neediest people. Our kits included rice, wheat, lentils, salt, spices, oil, soap, and face masks, and were distributed by our community and palliative care teams to 53 cancer patients, 14 HIV-positive women, and 150 people with disabilities. We also worked to build awareness about COVID-19 through public announcements and pamphlet distribution.

Before COVID-19 struck, we at Prem Sewa used to see 250 to 300 outpatients a day, but the lockdown has hit us hard because so many of our patients came from far away. Our outpatient department numbers have dropped to about 50 patients each day, and this has severely reduced our income to less than 20 percent of normal. We could not pay our staff in April, and we have found it difficult to buy PPE, face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant. Having no other option, we have begun to sew our own PPE out of plastic sheeting.

As the lockdown is slowly being relaxed, shops are open but with strict social distancing rules, and face masks are mandatory. There are restrictions in place for children under 10 and adults over 60 to keep them from roaming outdoors.

As the migrant population returns, we are concerned about a potential uncontrolled outbreak of the disease in our area. The communities will become overcrowded, leading to more spread of COVID-19. These jobless migrants are struggling with poverty, and the fact that there are very meager food supplies available will lead to starvation and increased crime.

For us at the hospital, building awareness in the community, advocating for the right to food security for the poor, and putting in place a proper system for disease surveillance in the district will be a major challenge.

As the peak of COVID-19 in India is expected to hit in June and July, we have to be well prepared to fight this disease which is keeping our future uncertain—but we believe in a God who is sovereign.”

~ Dr. George Varghese, Senior Administrative Officer

Area Sealed after Patient Tests Positive

5.8.20 Kachhwa Christian Hospital, Kachhwa, Uttar Pradesh, North Central India

“So far we have not had to treat any COVID-19 positive patients at Kachhwa. Our hospital is not designated as a COVID-19 unit yet. The first positive patient in our area was identified yesterday in a village near us. She had returned from Mumbai. Now this area is sealed.

So far, we have distributed dry goods to 1,160 of the most needy families in 58 nearby villages. This included provisions for 21 families of our palliative care patients and 86 families of people with disabilities. Each family received rice, flour, lentils, potatoes, salt, oil, and spices. Most also received a bar of soap to encourage handwashing. All told, we have given away 12,125 pounds of rice, 12,125 pounds of wheat flour, 4,850 pounds of lentils, 4,850 pounds of potatoes, 1,212 pounds of salt, 73 gallons of oil, and 600 bars of soap!

Our patient numbers have dropped significantly at the hospital, and even more so after the positive case was found in the area yesterday. This means our income has been reduced, and salaries and other payments are being delayed. Hopefully patient numbers will pick up in a couple of weeks.

Thank you for your support during this challenging time.”

~ Mr. Shankar Ramachandran, Senior Administrative Officer

Cases Rise in the Orange Zone of One EHA Hospital

5.8.20 Burrows Memorial Christian Hospital, Alipur, Assam, Northeast India

“At BMCH, we are following the direction of our state health authorities and treating all general patients who come to our hospital, in spite of all the challenges and risks.

Our income has fallen drastically as patient numbers have dropped due to the lockdown. We had been expecting that the numbers of general patients would start to increase when our district had no more reports of active COVID-19 cases, and that slowly things would return to normal. But unfortunately, yesterday our district reported 5 new COVID-19 positive cases. We may be declared as red zone very soon if things do not get under control. We are struggling to provide staff salaries and to purchase other necessary things. This month will be financially tough for us if we do not treat enough patients.

Currently our area is in the orange zone, so restrictions are still in place. The migrant workers and stranded students in different states are returning, so we are expecting the virus to spread.

Everyone is praying fervently to God for His protection and guidance upon all of us. The number of COVID-19 cases that are asymptomatic are numerous in India. We treat all patients with the utmost care by ensuring all safety measures and protocols are followed as much as possible. We are badly in need of PPE kits and N95 masks to protect our front-line staff. Our doctors refer all the patients with COVID-19 symptoms to Silchar Medical College Hospital (SMCH).

We are also praying for at least one more patient ventilator for treating seriously ill patients. At present, SMCH is the only designated hospital for treating COVID-19 patients in our area. But we don’t know what the situation will be next month as the health authorities of our country are projecting a very high increase of positive cases in the coming months.

Kindly continue to pray for all of us as we continue to serve the community.

~ Mr. Johnson Singson, Senior Administrative Officer

EHA Sees First COVID-19 Positive Patients

The Update
As of May 7, all of EHA’s staff in the hospitals and the Central Office remain safe and healthy. Nav Jivan Hospital, the first EHA hospital to treat COVID-19 positive cases, currently has 3 patients who were sent to them by a government testing center. A team of government doctors and nurses as well as EHA nurses are caring for these individuals.

As of today, India has almost 50,000 COVID-19 cases country-wide (including 1,694 deaths). The third phase of India’s lockdown, which will end May 17, categorizes zones as green (319), orange (284), or red (130) based on their Coronavirus-risk profiling. Metropolitan areas are generally categorized as red because of the number of new cases there. Several restrictions have been eased in the green zones. There is a concern that migrant workers who can now travel back to their villages may play a part in the spread of the disease.

The Response
EHA staff continue to distribute dry goods, masks and sanitizer, and hygiene kits as they head into a new month of restricted life. Many shops are still closed and food and income are scarce. All of the EHA hospitals have triage centers, and suspected cases are referred to district facilities for testing. So far none has been reported positive. Since the lockdown, patient numbers have been drastically reduced, and most of the hospitals have faced difficulty in covering staff salaries and other day-to-day needs.

Shortage of Non-COVID-19 Care Affects Patients

5.6.20 Chinchpada Christian Hospital, Chinchpada, Maharashtra, Central India

“At Chinchpada we have a separate flu outpatient department where we refer suspect patients to the government centers. We have referred 10 patients so far, but have not treated any yet.

Due to the lockdown, our patient numbers and income are down by 40 percent. This has led us to take measures such as paying our staff only 50 percent of their salaries for the months of March and April. Also, we have stopped all work on repairs, construction, and renovation. We have reduced our supply purchasing and are frequently running out of items.

Our state of Maharashtra has by far the most COVID-19 cases in India, currently at 14,541, including 583 deaths. The lockdown has not eased here as the government awaits data on new cases.

In April, we ”adopted” 500 vulnerable families and were able to distribute dry goods to them. We have now started the cycle for May as well.

Our major concerns are for patients who require regular care but are not able to travel to us due to restrictions based on districts. Our hospital borders two districts of Maharashtra, one of Madhya Pradesh, and one of Gujarat. Patients are struggling to find a hospital for needed non-COVID-19 treatment because so many facilities are closed. And the migrant workers who will probably not be able to travel for their work are going to face crisis for their families’ well-being which will affect their health as well.”

~ Dr. Deepak Singh, Senior Administrative Officer

Those Caring for COVID-19 Patients Treated as Untouchables

5.5.20 Nav Jivan Hospital, Satbarwa, Jharkhand, Northeast India

“Nav Jivan Hospital (NJH) has been designated as the dedicated COVID-19 hospital for both moderate and severe cases in our area. We have prepared 25 beds for severe cases and 45 beds for moderate cases. At present we have 3 COVID-19 positive patients who were admitted April 25. They are asymptomatic.

Through the community department of NJH, we have planned to distribute hygienic bags (bathing and washing soaps, triple-layer face mask, and sanitary pads) and dry goods (rice, lentils, soy nuggets, oil, mixed powders) for 750 families. This is being done through the support of the Indo Global Social Service Society.

Our income has drastically fallen. On the whole, patient numbers have dropped due to the COVID-19 patients here. This month will be financially tough for us if we do not admit any general patients.

Already the shops across the street are closed for us; they have stopped selling groceries to our staff because we have admitted COVID-19 patients. The majority of the community is treating our staff as untouchables.

Our area is in the orange zone, so restrictions are still in place. The migrant workers are returning and so we are expecting the virus to spread. These returning migrants will not have any jobs, and poverty will soon overtake them. More jobless labourers and no food means theft will increase.

But we are praying that God will protect Jharkhand, where the poorest of the poor are residing. The state will not be in a position to treat the severe COVID-19 cases due to the lack of equipment and supplies such as good PPE, N95 masks, and full-capacity ventilators and monitors. For our 25 beds set aside for severe patients, the government has given us only 3 ventilators and 3 monitors. What if more than 3 patients are admitted? Only God can save them. It is scary at this point and hence we earnestly praying that no patients should be positive. May God have mercy on this state.”

~ Mrs. Helen Paul, Senior Administrative Officer

Supplying Masks to One and All

5.5.20 Champa Christian Hospital, Champa, Chhattisgarh, Central India

“At Champa we have started a separate clinic for all patients with flu symptoms. We have seen more than 50 cases in this clinic and have referred them to the COVID-19 center for further testing. We do not know the results.

Our community department has supplied dry goods and hygiene kits to 300 families. We are stitching masks and supplying them to everyone who comes to the hospital, including the vegetable vendors. We have gone out into the community to raise awareness about COVID-19 and teach the importance of handwashing.

So far, we have been able to continue to pay staff salaries and other bills even with less patient income. Our district has seen less cases of COVID-19, so the lockdown was effective here. Time will tell what comes next as the lockdown is eased.“

~ Mrs. Manjula Ummareddy, Senior Administrative Officer

Local Community Changes Affect Landour

5.5.20 Landour Community Hospital, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

“As of now, we aren’t treating any COVID-19 patients at Landour. That being said, our regular services are ongoing with a greater degree of making sure we are alert and prepared.

Landour is a hospital that is dependent on the local environment (large private schools, hotels, tourists, and people from the villages). Mussoorie is a popular vacation spot and our area is dependent on the influx of tourists each year. The hospital is also significantly affected by the change of seasons, especially the winter. Considering that the COVID-19 crisis emerged at the end of winter (and is expected to remain as such into spring and summer), this has had a significant impact on our revenue—we’ve already seen a 30 percent drop. As anticipated, our overheads have gone up.

All this has led to Landour having to withhold payment of salaries to our staff for the month of April. The uncertainty concerning the opening of schools and travel safety is bound to have a significant impact on the local community and certainly on the hospital which is largely dependent on them. Considering the changes in the local environment (and the time it is likely to take to recover), paying of staff salaries is going to continue to be a major concern for us.

The lockdown has been eased partially in Dehradun district which is relief of sorts, but it leaves us questioning what to be prepared for. We see a sense of casualness in the public, with people leaving their homes for almost anything. Additionally, considering that various states have been working on repatriating people to their home states, Mussoorie is likely to see an inflow of individuals from neighboring states which have a high number of COVID-19 positive patients.

To date, Landour hospital has not been asked or instructed by the local government to admit or treat COVID-19 patients. In the days and weeks to come, if the situation demands, we may be asked to do so. Quite likely this would happen in a rush, leaving us little time to prepare. Much as we have our systems in place and are prepared (PPE, drugs, and supplies stocked), we think it would be sufficient for only a couple of weeks at the most.”

~ Dr. George Clarence, Senior Administrative Officer

Meeting the Needs of Palliative Care Patients

5.5.20 Lakhnadon Christian Hospital, Lakhnadon, Madhya Pradesh, Central India

“At Lakhnadon, we are serving the community through our palliative care team. Currently, we have 30 patients who are being cared for. Everything was going well until the third week of March, but as soon as the lockdown was announced, everything went out of control.

At present there are no COVID-19 positive patients in our district of Seoni. But the government is closely monitoring things, especially as many laborers who work in other parts of the country are slowly coming home. In this situation, there is a strong possibility of the spread of the virus in our district.

We are thankful to have received permission from our magistrate for the distribution of dry goods. We have made 100 food packets containing rice, flour, lentils, sugar, oil, tea, spices, and soap, and delivered them to our palliative care patients.

The community is in crisis mode due to the lockdown. Currently, those who have money have purchased the items they need, but the poor people still do not understand what to do. The government has distributed rice and wheat, but not all of the needy people have received it, so they have nothing to eat.

All important items are no longer available in the market due to the lockdown. Due to a lack of vehicles, many people are forced to leave their homes by foot in search of necessities. It seems as if life has reverted to 25 years ago.

Due to the absence of a medical doctor at Lakhnadon for the last 18 months and the subsequent closure of our medical services, the credibility of our hospital is declining. At present, only 11 people are employed here, including my wife, a nurse, who looks after the palliative care patients. The rest are support staff. We are only able to provide services to those within 30 km of our hospital. We are praying for finances to meet our needs for 2020-2021.”

~ Mr. Neeti Raj Nand, Administrator

Lack of Patients Causes Financial Struggles

5.5.20 Duncan Hospital, Raxaul, Bihar, North India

“By the grace of God we are safe and have yet to see the first COVID-19 positive patient. Our district, East Champaran, has over 10 positive patients tested elsewhere, and with the end of the lockdown we are expecting numbers to rise. However, with very poor testing facilities we will never accurately know who has the virus.

Our community teams are continuing to provide dry rations to the poor and needy in our community.

The financial ramifications for Duncan are that with people avoiding hospitals and elective care, our income continues to be at about 30 to 40 percent of normal. We are struggling with providing staff salaries, making purchases, and continuing needed construction. We are very grateful to God for the comforts we have while many of our fellow Indians struggle.

With the relaxation of the lockdown, we have had some increase in patient numbers. With this comes the fear of a possible increase in community spread of the virus, and if for some reason the hospital tests positive for some patients or staff, we could end up being closed, which is what a few hospitals in other parts of the country have had to face.

Over time we could face a surge of sick people or a surge of people who are coming for treatment after a prolonged duration of neglect. We hope God will be merciful on the weak and that he would shield us and keep the hospital staff healthy as we help those who have been affected directly or indirectly by the virus.”

~ Dr. Prabhu Joseph, Acting Managing Director, Duncan Hospital

First Experience with Possible COVID-19 Patient

5.1.20 Madhipura Christian Hospital, Madhipura, Bihar, North India

“Last week, we at Madhipura Christian Hospital (MCH) received a call from a local politician asking us to admit a woman in labor with eclampsia who was allegedly COVID-19 positive. We had to scramble to get an isolated bed and medications ready in a separate building. With our homemade PPE and prayer shield on, we began to treat this patient.

Relatives of other patients admitted in the main hospital building began congregating to find out why we were taking COVID-19 positive patients, but they settled when they were told her status was not confirmed. It was difficult for us to adjust to wearing the cumbersome PPE, but we monitored the patient, administered the medication she needed, and delivered her baby. Although the baby cried at birth, she was far too preterm to survive, and died a few hours later. Once the patient was stable, she was discharged uneventfully.

We never got confirmation from government authorities on whether this woman had tested positive or not. But treating this patient was a wake-up call for us to be ready for COVID-19 patients if and when they arrive at MCH.”

~ Dr. Arpit Mathew Jacob, Managing Director and Senior Administrative Officer

EHA’s COVID-19 Response by the Numbers

The Update

As of April 30, India has 33,610 COVID-19 cases country-wide (including 1,075 deaths), and their statistic of .76 deaths per million people is still quite low (compared to the US’s 175 deaths per million). It is possible that India’s early, all-inclusive lockdown has had a significant effect on the limited spread of the virus so far. On the other hand, India’s positive case numbers may not be accurate, given that they have only tested 48 out of every 100,000 people. Time will tell as India’s lockdown is eased on May 3, most likely maintaining some restrictions in hot spots where cases are still rising. Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state (population, 235 million) has extended a ban on public gatherings until the end of June.

The Response

Many of EHA’s hospitals, as well as their disaster response team and Shalom Delhi Project, have focused their efforts on meeting the immediate needs around them by providing food, soap, and education about the virus. Below are the statistics on all EHA has accomplished so far.

Shalom Kiran seamstresses before the lockdown

Shalom Delhi Still Supporting Others During Lockdown

4.28.20 Shalom Delhi Project, Delhi, North Central India

“This season has turned out to look nothing like what we expected. More than likely, that’s the case for most of you as well.

We are currently in a lockdown, which is essential to save the country from a rapid outbreak of COVID-19. But the lockdown has aggravated the distress of the families we work with, those whose livelihoods depend on their daily income. Many of these families and individuals living with HIV or cancer are likely to fall through the cracks, so at Shalom Delhi we are endeavoring to support them as best we can.

We have been amazed at the faithfulness of individuals, faith-based organizations, and funding organizations in providing for the needs of the vulnerable among us. We are also deeply grateful that none of the people we work with have been infected.

So far, here are the specific COVID-19 responses from Shalom Delhi:

  • Provided grocery money to 28 families, 11 transgender people, 15 people living with terminal cancer, and 12 girls coming from families in dire need, so that no one starves.
  • Continued to pay the wages of the women who sew at our Kiran Project, even though they are unable to work during the lockdown.
  • Made regular phone calls to the adolescents we work with in order to improve mental health, provide encouragement, and give comfort to them during this difficult time of lockdown with no school.
  • Planned to give food hampers for 24 weeks to 25 HIV-positive families, 15 cancer-affected families, and 15 transgender people to help them with temporary setbacks and a loss of income.
  • Made daily calls to all of our home-based-care families (HIV and cancer-affected).
  • Worked on procuring PPE kits and N95 masks and other equipment for Shalom medical staff.

Thank you for your care and support.”

~ Dr. Rajni Herman, Director of Shalom Delhi

Makunda Nursing School as a PPE Factory

4.26.20 Makunda Christian Hospital, Bazaricherra, Assam. Northeast India

The Makunda Christian Hospital is situated in a remote and predominantly tribal region of the Karimganj District in Assam, and is also strategically located at the junction of the three states of Assam, Tripura, and Mizoram. With the remoteness comes the challenge of the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). That did not deter the hospital—the nursing school stepped up and the students used their sewing skills to produce masks and gowns to protect their healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.

Fire Department Sanitizes Open Areas

4.24.20 Burrows Memorial Christian Hospital, Alipur, Assam, Northeast India

“Our district authorities have been making significant efforts in sanitizing all public spaces, including hospitals, which are considered risk-prone areas for the local spread of the virus. Today with the help of the fire department and the government of Assam, Lakhipur, we have taken steps for the disinfection of the hospital surroundings and premises. We want to sincerely thank all of them.”

~ Mr. Johnson Singson, Senior Administrative Officer

Innovation in Designing PPE

4.23.20 A COVID-19 update by Robb Hansen, EHA USA Executive Director

The Update
While India now has over 20,000 cases country-wide (including 652 deaths), their statistic of 15 cases per million people is still quite low (compared to the US’s 2,558 cases per million). The Indian state with the largest number of cases (over 5,000) is Maharashtra, which is where EHA’s Chinchpada Christian and GM Priya Hospitals are located. Delhi, the site of EHA’s Central Office, has over 2,000 cases. India’s Prime Minister extended the entire country’s 3-week lockdown for 3 more weeks until May 3.

The Progress
Many of EHA’s hospitals are continuing to reach out into their communities with desperately needed food. Read the stories below for more information. Each hospital is preparing for COVID-19 cases the best they can, setting up hygiene best practices and making their own face masks and PPE. Time will tell if their preparation will be sufficient or if it will be a drop in the bucket of overwhelming sickness and need.

One Hospital’s Story
Under normal circumstances, the orthotic and prosthetics department of the Anugrah Project at Herbertpur Christian Hospital does an outstanding job creating custom braces and replacement limbs for amputees and people with disabilities. When the hospital leadership realized they could not purchase face shields for the frontline healthcare workers, they asked this department to seek a way to produce safe, quality, cost-effective face shields.

The prosthetics and carpentry team looked through their available materials and came up with a design within 15 minutes. Using clear vinyl sheets, strips of foam, and Velcro, the team designed multiple prototypes, and the best-fitting face shield was selected. In addition, they had the idea to put small clamps on each side of the face shield where the face mask can be attached, sparing workers the sore ears that have plagued so many doctors and nurses. Now the prosthetics team is busily manufacturing these shields for the frontline workers who serve at Herbertpur.

Another part of the team at Herbertpur has designed and sewn 200 sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits from polypropylene fabric, which offers benefits like fine filtration, acoustic insulation, and decent strength and stretch. These suits will cover healthcare workers from head to toe using a hood, mask, gown with cuffs, and shoe covers.

Referring to Herbertpur’s prosthetic team, the Christian Medical and Dental Society said, “Salute to these healthcare teams for going beyond the call of duty to ensure safety for all. They have taken the shortage of PPE as a challenge and come up with tremendous solutions. They are tired. They are stretched. They are at risk. But they will not stop. Help us support them.”

Aiding the Disabled

4.20.20 Herbertpur Christian Hospital, Herbertpur, Uttarakhand, North India

Situated in the picturesque Doon Valley between the foothills of the Himalayas and the low Shivalik range, Herbertpur Christian Hospital (HCH) is the only facility offering comprehensive emergency medical services in the nearby region. This 120-bed hospital houses the Anugrah Project, a multi-faceted program that meets the needs of both children and adults with disabilities.

HCH is partnering with the government by providing food for families with disabled people as well as for migrant laborers. They have developed posters with specific guidelines for each disability during this pandemic. Checking on well-being is key, so Anugrah staff are making phone calls to each household with a disabled person.

A Vision of True Mission

4.20.20 Sewa Bhawan Hospital, Jagdeeshpur, Chhattisgarh, Central India

 “Join us in reaching the needy with much-needed food! This article is not to highlight what we at Sewa Bhawan have done but purely to encourage others to do their bit and to be a part of this movement. The best thing is none of our patients were rejected because of COVID-19 restrictions. At the same time, the government rules on reporting and referring are being strictly followed. Thanking God for our dedicated and committed staff. Truly these people have a vision of Mission. Together we will overcome!”

~ Mrs. Merin Thomas, Senior Administrative Officer

500 Starving Families Fed

4.20.20 Madhipura Christian Hospital, Madhipura, Bihar, North India

“Our first phase of relief distribution is complete. We targeted those families most in need, such as widows and people with disabilities. We are now planning our second phase of 500 new families. We also hope to support relief distribution among 150 extremely poor families from the Malto tribe in Jharkhand where our sister hospital, Prem Jyoti is working.”

~ Dr. Arpit Mathew Jacob, Managing Director and Senior Administrative Officer

Building Isolation Cabins in a General Ward

4.17.20 Broadwell Christian Hospital, Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh, North Central India

“At Broadwell Christian Hospital, we have been designated as a COVID-19 facility by the government. We are in regular contact with the government and the Chief Medical Officer. In the past, the government has not been sure how to utilize private hospitals for this type of situation, so we are thankful that recently they have been proactively sharing their knowledge and plans with us.

We are told by the officials that so far 170 samples from our area have been tested for COVID-19 (all of them people returning from foreign countries); all of them reported to be negative. They are planning to send at least 20 samples per day. Our district government hospital takes the sample which has to be sent 75 miles away to Lucknow for testing.

In spite of being a COVID-19 designated facility, we do not have any standard, certified PPE kits. We are stitching our own PPE including masks with non-woven fabric we bought from another city. We have a limited number of surgical masks and about 10 N95 masks.

We have one functional ventilator and seven monitors. We have built isolation cabins in a general ward; each will have an oxygen supply and a monitor, and we have five private rooms being prepared to be used for COVID-19 cases.

India is still in the midst of a national lockdown. Almost all private hospitals and nursing homes are closed. As of now in our hospital our outpatient department (OPD) is open, and we are segregating patients with flu-like illness to be seen in a separate OPD. Our inpatients are mostly delivering mothers and newborns. This month we have only been able to pay our staff 50% of their salaries because of the decreased load of regular cases.”

~ Dr. Jesudoss Antony, Senior Administrative Officer

Designated as a COVID-19 Hospital

4.17.20 Nav Jivan Hospital, Satbarwa, Jharkhand, Northeast India

“On March 30 the Deputy Commissioner and the medical team from the government visited our hospital. After going around the whole area, they decided to designate Nav Jivan Hospital (NJH) as the COVID-19 hospital for the Palamau district (population: 2 million). At first I was shocked and concerned about how our staff would react to this decision. But as I prayed, God convinced me that this is a golden opportunity for NJH to be salt and light in the community. Now is the time for God to be glorified through us.

The government hospital authorities visit us practically every day to guide and instruct us. We have set aside our eye ward of 28 beds for severe COVID-19 patients, and the old isolation wards and new private rooms for the moderate COVID-19 patients. In total we have isolated 60 beds in case of emergency.

To date there have been no positive cases identified in the Palamau district. The government and private hospitals are closed, so most of the patients are coming to us. We see nearly 80-100 patients every day. But the Deputy Commissioner has asked for the closure of the outpatient and emergency departments. I have written a letter to him that being a charitable mission organization, and having no other source of income, it would be very difficult for us to survive if we close our regular services.

The government has given us only 50 PPE kits and 70 N95 masks. Our actual requirement is 30 PPE/day and a minimum of 24 masks/day. We have requested needed essential equipment, including beds, mattresses, pillows, bedside lockers, and also medicines and other surgical items.”

~ Mrs. Helen Paul, Senior Administrative Officer

Caring for the Displaced

4.16.29 Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital, Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh, Central India

To cope with the large amount of unemployed day workers in Delhi, the government has been transporting some of them out of the city. A group recently arrived in Lalitpur and is being quarantined at a school near Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital (HBMH). Responding to the local government’s request, the hospital began a feeding program this week. They are preparing meals for approximately 100 individuals and funding this by themselves. Given that HBMH is struggling financially, it is truly going above and beyond to meet the needs of these displaced men in this way.

EHA’s Nav Jivan Hospital has been designated a COVID-19 facility by the Indian government.

Food and Equipment Shortages Plague Response

4.17.20 A COVID-19 update by Robb Hansen, EHA USA Executive Director

The Summary
The government ordered a lockdown on March 25. No travel. No movement. For many, no work. This has led to millions more or less desperately scrounging for food across the country. Medically, few cases have appeared at EHA facilities, though more are expected and will come. Two of EHA’s hospitals, Nav Jivan and Broadwell Christian, have been designated as COVID-19 hospitals by the Indian government.

The Detail
The sudden announcement of a lockdown due to the global pandemic of the Coronavirus caught millions of daily wage earners unawares. These people depend upon the money earned each day to pay for the food their families eat. It is as simple as, “No work = no money = no food.” Period. This situation has led to near-desperate measures with laborers foraging for leftover potatoes and vegetables in fields previously harvested. Visit EHA USA’s home page and play the brief video as two mothers tell their own stories of coping.

EHA’s Response
EHA is assembling packages of food and other basic necessities like soap, and distributing them to those most needy in the areas surrounding the hospitals. These packages cost $27 to assemble and will feed a family of five for one month. Yes, it is difficult to believe, but we have been assured that this number is accurate. Give $27 to feed a family for a month. Or $270 to feed ten families. Or $2700 to feed a hundred.


On the medical front, due to the lockdown, many government and private hospital facilities have either closed or are functioning at a greatly reduced level. For some EHA locations, this has resulted in a sudden influx of patients. This has been a wonderful opportunity to serve their locales but has strained capacity. Please pray for strength as doctors and nurses see more patients than normal, caring for the usual array of situations: difficult pregnancies, snake bites, attempted suicides, and motor vehicle accidents. In other locations, the travel restrictions and stay-at-home measures have caused significantly fewer patients to come to EHA hospitals for treatment. Only those needing absolutely essential care are coming, so outpatient numbers are down to 15 percent of normal and inpatient numbers are hovering at 60 percent of normal. This is causing a huge financial strain at these EHA locations. Please pray for God’s provision and for wisdom as the leadership manages this difficult situation.

In preparing for the onslaught of the virus, EHA’s doctors and nurses are taking what steps they can to fight the anticipated outbreaks of COVID-19. Most EHA hospitals are short on very basic medical supplies. There is a distinct lack of masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields. Not surprisingly, EHA is working to solve these problems. Sewing machines are humming as masks are manufactured. Plastic raincoats serve as gowns. A byword of EHA’s service to its community has always been innovation. It is happening.

Going a layer deeper, EHA lacks ventilators in its facilities in many cases. These will be needed as COVID-19 cases rise, or patients will needlessly die. If you can help us facilitate the acquisition of such equipment at EHA’s locations we would be extremely grateful. Equipment is available for purchase in India (ventilators are approximately $16,000 each). To support equipment purchases such as ventilators in particular, click below.


Isolation, clearly a critical factor in reducing the spread of the virus, is difficult in EHA facilities. In most cases, the hospitals have only a few individual patient rooms, or none at all. Most care for inpatients is delivered in wards with ten to thirty beds, making separation difficult in the best of times. The expected crisis will complicate this situation. Aggressive steps are being taken to develop isolation units, with EHA leadership collaborating with local government health officials. Distancing will be practiced, but if facilities are overrun, few simple solutions exist. Every effort will be made to deliver adequate care, but preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the hospitals will be a challenge.

That’s our update for this week. Please follow us on Facebook or Instagram for regular updates, or visit this page.

Packets of Food and EssentialsCost: $27, Impact: Priceless

4.13.20 Madhipura Christian Hospital, Madhipura, Bihar, North India

“Our team at Madhipura Christian Hospital has completed the second part of the first phase of distribution and are on their way home. We have distributed a month’s supply of food and essentials to 213 of the most vulnerable families in 7 villages so far. There were a few minor incidents of people demanding to be included, but overall it was uneventful. We have also begun the face mask distribution to all of our target villages.

Our team of community workers, doctors, maintenance workers, and others has done an amazing job of organizing everything and keeping track of which people have received food. Please pray for the safety of our team as they carry out this labor of love. They are determined to let nothing stop them.”

~ Dr. Arpit Mathew Jacob, Managing Director and Senior Administrative Officer

Disaster Relief Team Steps Up

4.6.20 Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, serving North India

EHA has a Disaster Management  and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) that operates all over North India and has even gone to offer aid in Kerala at the southern tip of India as well as areas in Nepal and Albania. Whenever crisis strikes, be it an earthquake, flood, or even war, the disaster relief team is ready to go where needed, bringing medical care, medication, food, shelter, and basic household necessities. In times of non-crisis, they do a significant amount of training and planning so that organizations and communities are prepared for further difficulties. The unit often teams up with governmental agencies and other organizations to get things done.

DMMU is constantly assessing the COVID situation in India and carrying out their Emergency Response, Rehabilitation, and Preparedness Plan. Both EHA hospital teams and project teams have been actively engaged in creating awareness, teaching infection prevention in local communities, communicating about risk, and keeping surveillance ever since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Many EHA hospitals have been conducting mock drills, walking through how to handle a suspected patient from point of entry to treatment in an isolation ward until discharge.

As of April 11, there are 7,529 confirmed cases of COVID in India, and there have been 242 deaths. It is only just beginning. The government instituted a three-week lockdown on March 25, causing millions of daily wage earners to be out of work and therefore without food. They also shut down all transportation, stranding thousands of migrant workers who needed to travel back to their villages.

In partnership with the government and EHA hospitals, DMMU has already begun distributing food and hygiene kits in Madhipura, Chinchpada, and Chhatarpur. Each family receives three to four weeks’ worth of rice, flour, lentils, salt, and oil, as well as soap, face masks, and other household needs. Each of these kits costs just $30.

In the days ahead, there will be many factors for DMMU to address. Trauma and stigma are going to be major issues faced by the COVID-19 patients and their families, so a 24/7 call center is being set up. Livelihood training will be another upcoming challenge, and DMMU will need to plan for rehabilitation after the pandemic is over.

$27 to Feed a Family for a Month; 25 Cents to Sew a Mask

4.5.20 Madhipura Christian Hospital, Madhipura, Bihar, North India

“As a nation, we didn’t see this coming. It hit us by surprise. In the villages, no one knew what was going on. In spite of having mobile phones and access to the internet, the villagers were completely unprepared. At Madhipura Christian Hospital, we have been prayerfully preparing for the storm that could be coming soon. We are the only hospital in our district with functioning ventilators and facilities for acute care. We are making masks and PPEs in-house, as it is really expensive to procure them commercially.

Madhepura and the surrounding five districts are all on the list of the 25 least developed districts in India. The most marginalized people group are the Mahadalits, or ‘untouchables.’ This group of people are at the lowest rung of the caste system that is an unspoken reality in our villages. Considered to be sub-human, they have been so oppressed and ostracized for centuries that one of their staple foods is rats, so they are casually referred to as ‘the rat-eaters.’ Our community program staff have been implementing a holistic community transformation work among these people that includes all aspects of health and development work.

Over the past year, we have expanded our program to include 15 new villages that all have sizeable Mahadalit populations. These are extremely backward areas where the light of development has not reached. Our plan is to reach out to 500 families in these during this difficult time.

One of the pressing needs of the hour is food. With the 21-day lockdown, all laborers have been laid off. Since the majority of these people work as daily-wage laborers, they now have no money to buy food. Moreover, many of the men who had migrated elsewhere for work are stuck in various parts of the country as they were unable to get back before the lockdown. There is a huge humanitarian crisis in the midst of the pandemic crisis. The government does have plans for programs to provide for villagers living below the poverty line. However, a lot of this gets lost in the red tape and doesn’t really reach the people.

We have identified the most vulnerable families in these villages. These include widows, people with disabilities, those with mental health issues, palliative care patients, and women and children whose breadwinners are away. We plan to provide their staple food for at least one month until more clarity emerges about the future. There is also a need to provide them with face masks for prevention of the spread of the virus, and toiletries to keep themselves clean. In the eye of the current situation, supplying these kits to every family is a high priority to avoid a disaster in our villages.

Our staff, local tailors, and village women we trained in sewing are all stitching cloth masks, each of which costs 25 cents. The food packets with rice, lentils, salt, oil, flour, and soap cost $27 per family, and should feed them for a month.

Please pray that God blesses this effort and helps these families through it.”

~ Dr. Arpit Mathew Jacob, Managing Director and Senior Administrative Officer

Handwashing and Hygiene

4.3.20 Sewa Bhawan Hospital, Jagdeeshpur, Chhattisgarh, Central India

“In the state of Chhattisgarh there are only 10 reported cases of COVID, with the first one diagnosed on March 19. So far there are no signs of community spread since we are in lockdown, but we have given all of our staff training on how to handle suspected cases, maintain hygiene, and handle infection control. Everyone entering the hospital campus must wash their hands at our outdoor station.

We have made banners to raise awareness about the virus, and the village leaders have been trained and given awareness materials in their local languages. Village visits are impossible right now since all village entrances are blocked. Our pharmacy is working on local home delivery during this lockdown time.

Sewa Bhawan only has 1 ventilator, 2 infusion pumps, and 4 partially working monitors. We have no Personal Protective Equipment except for gloves and homemade cotton surgical masks. We have added a transparent plastic sheet to the masks as a face shield.

This is an unprecedented situation. Fear is all around and panic is not far away. However, we serve a God who has conquered death. He has called us to stand in the gap and be counted at this time of national emergency. Let us have a spirit not of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Please pray for those in leadership who must make hard decisions. Pray for those struggling in this difficult time.”

~ Mrs. Merin Thomas, Senior Administrative Officer

Down to 15% Outpatients and 60% Inpatients

4.3.20 Baptist Christian Hospital, Tezpur, Assam, Northeast India

“We have set up two triage areas—one for the Outpatient Department (OPD) and one for the Emergency Department. A dedicated Respiratory OPD has been set up to see all patients with flu-like symptoms, fever, and respiratory illness. This OPD is equipped with a separate registration and billing counter; lab sampling and portable x-rays are done in the same setting. There is a dedicated pharmacy counter for dispensing medications. All these measures are to prevent any potential transmission from an infected case. A separate respiratory ward has been set up with 20 beds where respiratory cases are being managed separately.

We have earmarked a 30-bed isolation ward in case of an outbreak in our region. Baptist Christian Hospital serves 4 districts in Assam and 3 districts in Arunachal Pradesh.

We are woefully short on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields. We estimate that to run the COVID-19 ward for 30 days we would need 3,570 PPE kits and in reality we have very few. There is also other equipment that we need to care for patients, like a portable ultrasound machine, a portable x-ray machine, and more ventilators.

At present, the lockdown is severely affecting our normal patient flow and therefore our income. Where we would normally see about 300 outpatients a day, we have only had 45. Our inpatient bed occupancy is only about 60 percent of normal.

Please pray for our staff and others around the world who are on the front line of this battle against the virus. Pray that our needs for PPE and other equipment, as well as income, would be met.”

~ Mr. Jagdish Solanki, Managing Director, and Dr. Asolie Chase, Medical Director

Triaging at the Gate

4.3.20 Chinchpada Christian Hospital, Chinchpada, Maharashtra, West Central India

“We are doing okay thus far by God’s grace. Maharashtra has the most cases of any state in India (748) but we have not yet had a case at Chinchpada. Our services are available 24/7, which is something we hope to continue so that patients in our vicinity can get adequate treatment. Since there is a complete lockdown in India, people’s movement is severely restricted. In some places, village roads have been blocked on all sides with no vehicles allowed in or out. Food supplies are running out and there may be scarcity soon.

In the hospital, we have stopped having large group morning devotions together and now have it in small groups of 5 to 6 people. It is interesting to hear songs of praise coming from different areas of the hospital simultaneously.

We have started a triaging system at the gate for all patients who have a respiratory illness. They will then be taken to a separate area where distance is maintained according to the recommendations. Their check-up and sampling will be done at the same place and then recommendations will be made depending on the severity of their disease.

Staff in all areas of the hospital are wearing homemade cloth masks; we have turned raincoats into gowns and plastic bags into caps. We have 4 ventilators and 7 ICU beds, and we have designated 10 to 15 beds as an isolation facility. But we don’t have enough staff or Personal Protective Equipment, and we are not equipped to handle severe cases. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for us all as this is a very challenging time.”

~ Drs. Deepak and Ashita Singh, Senior Administrative Officer and Physicians

Disaster Preparedness and Response

4.2.20 Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, operating in disaster-prone areas within India

EHA’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) is constantly assessing the COVID situation in India and working on their Emergency Response, Rehabilitation, and Preparedness Plan. Both EHA hospital teams and project teams have been actively engaged in creating awareness, teaching infection prevention in local communities, communicating about risk, and keeping surveillance ever since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Most EHA hospitals have been conducting mock drills, walking through how to handle a suspected patient from point of entry to treatment in an isolation ward until discharge.

There are many potential factors for DMMU to address. Due to the nationwide lockdown, there are reports of many migrant workers, landless laborers, homeless people, and very poor families who are struggling with their daily food needs. Trauma and stigma are going to be major issues faced by the COVID-19 patients and their families. Livelihood issues will be another upcoming challenge, and DMMU will need to plan for rehabilitation after the pandemic is over.

The DMMU team is working on their Emergency Response, Rehabilitation, and Preparedness Plan in close coordination with local communities and various other agencies.

No Work, No Income, No Food

EHA staff visit a village where families have nothing to eat but a few potatoes. Kachhwa Christian Hospital provides grocery packs of essential food for 100 families.

Posted by Emmanuel Hospital Association (USA) on Thursday, April 2, 2020

No Work, No Income, No Food

4.1.20 Kachhwa Christian Hospital, Kachhwa, Uttar Pradesh, North Central India

“Today we are surrounded by fear and panic, and most of the world is trying to see how they can keep themselves safe. But we have a responsibility to the community around us; to love our neighbors. Especially the poor and marginalized, amongst whom are those most affected.

At Kachhwa Christian Hospital, we are surrounded by a destitute community called the “Musahar.” Traditionally a rat-eating community, they are at the lowest strata of society. During normal circumstances, they go without food if the men miss a couple days’ work.

The sudden lockdown means that the men have no work to do and as a result, no money to buy daily provisions. So this was the first group of people who came to mind when we decided to help others in need. We decided to give 100 families grocery packs containing 22 lbs. of Atta flour, 22 lbs. of rice, 1 liter of oil, 4 lbs. of lentils, 2 lbs. of salt, and 4 lbs. of potatoes. Through friends and well-wishers, we were able to raise the funds required within a day.

On day three of the lockdown, we visited the Musahar district and invited the station officer of the local police station to be part of the distribution. He came with his team, and we found that most of the families only had a few potatoes to eat that they had scrounged from already harvested fields. As we met with the families, we said a short prayer, thanking God for His provision and for His love for the Musahars.

We plan to continue supplying these families with food until the lockdown ends. We trust God to provide adequate resources for this work.”

~ Mr. Shankar Ramachandran, Senior Administrative Officer

Working Together with the Community

4.1.20 Landour Community Hospital, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, North India

In an effort to prepare for COVID-19, staff at Landour Community Hospital have been working overtime to sew protective masks and gowns. They are thankful to have the time and expertise of several local tailors as well as colleagues from the nearby Woodstock School to assist in their efforts. Landour is located in the very northern part of India at the foothills of the Himalayas.

Update from EHA USA Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Well, here we are, learning about “social distancing” and “sheltering in place, ” terms we’d hardly heard of just days ago. Even as we move through this very difficult period, I wanted to update you on the early stages of the spread of the Coronavirus in India and its impact on EHA hospitals.

To date there have been 1,834 cases confirmed and 41 deaths as a result. While these numbers appear low compared to US figures, bear in mind that reporting and testing in India are not as fully developed as in some other nations. In brief, as difficult and challenging as our experience has been with the virus, as it unfolds the crisis may well be far more deadly in India.

Many millions of Indians live at the subsistence level, earning only enough each day to cover living expenses for that day. The government’s recent lockdown order, as appropriate as it may be from a public health standpoint, means that many are immediately without employment and without transportation from major cities to home villages. And truly, if these daily wage earners don’t work, they won’t eat.

EHA has developed a “disaster management and mitigation unit” designed to address crises. Clearly the Coronavirus pandemic is a brewing disaster on a scale far beyond EHA’s ability to address alone. However, the teams will do their best to meet the immediate and extreme needs of those in the surrounding areas of EHA locations. We will keep you updated not only on the medical work done by EHA, but also on the disaster response front.

To date we do not have many specific details on how Covid-19 is affecting EHA locations. However, we have asked the 20 EHA hospital units to each provide us an update on what they are seeing and experiencing, and those replies have begun to trickle in. The stark reality is that as underprepared as some American cities have been with medical care, the situation in India promises to be much worse.

An early response on the virus from EHA Lalitpur’s leader, Dr. Thomas Bhanu, reads as follows:

India is a potential tsunami. The government is doing what it can, I guess, but for 1.3 billion people it’s an uphill task!

Our hospital is open, unlike all the private hospitals in Lalitpur; even the district government hospital outpatient ward is non-functional, which means we will soon be inundated with all kinds of cases and….exposure. Three days ago we admitted a 6-year-old child with burns over 40 percent of his body who was discharged from another place and desperate for continuance of help!

We have been approached by the government to prepare isolation beds, which I was able to defer by pointing out we are not equipped for that. [Ed. note: Remember, most EHA hospitals have open wards with as many as 20 beds in each room.] We are more than willing to take on all the non-COVID cases, which itself is a huge number with all other places closed. As of now we have some basic Personal Protective Equipment, but only face masks and caps and gloves, and our supply of these is limited. There are simply none available to purchase. 

I visited Lalitpur just last month. Dr. Bhanu and his team are working to invigorate this location which was in some decline, has suffered from infrastructure challenges, and lacks even basic equipment. While we were there Dr. Bhanu, an orthopedic surgeon, was faced with the difficulty of needing to perform an amputation of an infected lower leg, but having no tools to do the work! We delivered a set of borrowed equipment when we arrived.

Much has been written in recent days about ventilators, the need for them, the possibility of sharing them, and how some patients will surely die without them. To give perspective, there are no ventilators in the whole district surrounding Lalitpur. Not one. Imagine the potential risk to human life if this area of North India sees Coronavirus cases multiply.

Thank you for your interest in EHA. I hope you come to see as I have that the spirit of hope and care that the medical teams demonstrate in all they do is truly amazing. They do so much, for so many, with so little.

Please pray for the team at Lalitpur and all over EHA. And if you are moved to support either their work specifically, or the work of EHA as a whole, your contributions will be gratefully received, and rapidly deployed to help those in need. You can give by simply clicking the “Donate” button below.

Follow us on Facebook. Follow us on Instagram. Check the website for updates.

With a Spirit of Hope in Him,

Robb Hansen

Executive Director, EHA USA

Sewing Our Own Masks

4.1.20 Kachhwa Christian Hospital, Kachhwa, Uttar Pradesh, North Central India

“At Kachhwa, we are preparing ourselves for a possible outbreak like EHA’s other hospitals. Due to limited testing facilities, it is impossible to determine who is positive. So we follow universal precautions and are triaging patients who come down with symptoms.

The whole country is on a 21-day lockdown, so the poor are really suffering, especially the daily wage earners. They have no work, no income, and no food.

We have minimal equipment at the hospital, so we have been sewing masks and making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with sheets. We have just one ventilator and there is no availability of any in the entire country as there was already a severe shortage. Plus having the lockdown makes transportation a challenge.

So far God has protected the health of the staff, although those wearing N95 masks get exhausted quickly because they are not able to breathe fresh air. Please pray for continued protection, strength, and energy. Pray that there would be no spirit of fear but that we would operate from a spirit of love, power, and sound mind.”

~ Mr. Shankar Ramachandran, Senior Administrative Officer

Drop in Income and No Ventilator

3.31.20  Burrows Memorial Christian Hospital, Alipur, Assam, Northeast India

“At Burrows Memorial Christian Hospital, our patient numbers have dropped due to the 21-day lockdown across the country, so our income has been significantly reduced. We are taking all precautionary measures for our staff and family members within the hospital campus. We are not fully prepared—we don’t have Personal Protective Equipment kits. We have masks and gloves for our staff for the next three weeks—but we are unable to buy more. Our government was able to provide us with one weeks’ worth.

We do not have a single ventilator nor an ICU in our facility. We are using an area at the entrance of our hospital to triage patients with safety measures in place. Please remember us in your prayers as we are exposed to the hazards and perils of this world. Pray for the safety and protection of all of our staff and family members.”

~ Mr. Johnson Singson, Senior Administrative Officer

Only Hospital Open

3.31.20 Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital, Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh, Central India

“The COVID-19 virus has hit the whole world hard. India is a potential tsunami waiting to explode….unfortunately in spite of the lockdown we face in this country. The government is doing what they can, I guess, but for 1.3 billion people, it’s an uphill task!

Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital is open unlike all the private hospitals in Lalitpur; even the district government hospital outpatient department is non-functional, which means we will soon be inundated with all kinds of cases and….exposure. Three days ago we admitted a 6-year-old child with burns over 40 percent of his body who was discharged from another place and desperate for continuance of help!

We have been approached by the government to prepare isolation beds, which I was able to defer by pointing out we are not equipped for that. [Ed. Note: Remember, most EHA hospitals have open wards with as many as 20 beds in each room.] We are more than willing to take on all the non-COVID cases, which itself is a huge number with all other places closed.

As of now we have some basic Personal Protective Equipment—only face masks and caps and gloves….and our supply of these is limited. There are simply none available to purchase.”

~ Dr. Thomas Bhanu

3.25.20  The Global Crisis of a Pandemic

In this time of global crisis as we face the spread of the coronavirus, we ask that you remember Emmanuel Hospital Association’s 20 hospitals and the staff who faithfully serve at each one.

Statistics show the following:

  • India has 1 doctor for every 11,600 people. (the US has 1 doctor per 300.)
  • India has 1 hospital bed per 1,800 people.
  • India has 1 isolation bed per 84,000 people. (Many of their hospital beds are lined up together in an open room.)
  • India has 1 quarantine bed per 36,000 people.

The health infrastructure in India is woefully stretched even during ordinary times, especially in rural North India, where EHA serves. You can see from the statistics that their medical staff are likely to be overwhelmed, and EHA does not have adequate beds, ventilators, and other supplies to be able to weather this crisis.

Please pray for protection, endurance, and encouragement for each and every person serving with EHA. While we in the US are concerned about the virus, those in India are likely to experience a significantly more serious situation.