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Dr. Bhavini Gohel at the South Health Campus in Calgary on May 20, 2021. Dr. Gohel has worked at the hospital since 2013, the same year she joined the board of the Maya Devi Charitable hospital near Delhi, India. The Maya Devi Charitable hospital has been running since 2011.

Sarah B Groot/The Globe and Mail

Bhavini Gohel knows it sounds silly. She knows a coffeemaker in a field hospital in India is not going to heal the subcontinent.

But, as the novel coronavirus rips through India and the country’s health care workers are in crisis, the Calgary physician believes a cuppa could make a tiny dent in a major disaster. Dr. Gohel and others in Calgary are raising cash to pay for medical equipment to help ease the pressure in India. They’ve purchased oxygen concentrators that patients can use at home, for example. They are fundraising for ICU gear. And now, with an eye on the mental well-being of India’s physicians, they want to nab some coffeemakers.

“It makes such a difference. It is not just about the coffee. It is about the fact that you can stop and pause, and think, and then maybe there are other people around that are grabbing a coffee at the same time and you can have a bit of conversation,” Dr. Gohel said.

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That conversation, she said, could be the difference between a physician dying by suicide or not. A coffee station creates a small opportunity to check in with others, bounce medical conundrums off colleagues and suck back caffeine.

Dr. Gohel, a physician and professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, is on the board of Child Foundation, a registered charity in Alberta’s largest city. Child Foundation built and operates a 20-bed hospital about 50 kilometres northeast of New Delhi. It is the vehicle through which Dr. Gohel and others are supporting health care workers and patients in India.

The facility is called the Maya Devi Charitable Hospital, named after Anil Jain’s mother. Mr. Jain, a retired chemical engineer turned cannabis entrepreneur in Calgary, is one of Ms. Devi’s 10 children, two of whom died before the age of 5.

“Her pain was always obvious,” Mr. Jain said. “Doesn’t matter how many kids moms have – losing a single one is very painful.”

Dr. Anil Jain holds a photo of the Maya Devi Charitable Hospital at his home in Calgary on May 20, 2021. Dr. Jain founded the Hospital near Delhi, India on the land that previously housed the home he was born on. Dr. Jain named the hospital after his late mother in memory of the two siblings Dr. Jain lost because there was no medical centre in their community of 50,000 people.

Sarah B Groot/The Globe and Mail

They lived in Sarurpur, a village (by Indian standards) of about 27,000. It did not have a proper health care facility, to Ms. Devi’s disappointment. She longed for local care.

And so when she died, Mr. Jain and his siblings turned their inheritance into a hospital in her honour. They built it on the land where Ms. Devi’s family home had been. It opened in 2011 and costs about $70,000 s year to operate, according to Child Foundation.

The pandemic has been especially devastating in India, with total cases exceeding 27 million and deaths surpassing 315,000, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The Indian Medical Association counts at least 864 doctors who have died because of COVID-19. Physicians are burned out. At least one died by suicide earlier this month.

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The Child Foundation brainstormed ways it could support the Maya Devi Charitable Hospital as COVID-19 swept India. The organization ordered 22 oxygen concentrators, Mr. Jain said. Ten have been delivered, a dozen are on backorder and the group wants to buy another 10, he said. The hospital can then send some COVID-19 patients home with these portable machines, giving them access to oxygen support while easing the workload on the facility. They cost between $1,500 and $2,500 each, depending on their capacity.

A few of the 1,000 pulse oximeters destined for India in Calgary on May 20, 2021. In addition to the 1,000 oximeters, 10,000 masks and 40,000 Tylenol have also been recently purchased for the Maya Devi Charitable Hospital.

Sarah B Groot/The Globe and Mail

The group planned to assemble 1,000 take-home kits for patients that would include medicine and equipment such as oximeters and thermometers. This, however, proved tricky. They couldn’t, for example, purchase bulk prescription medicine here. Child Foundation has since adjusted and is now shopping for medicine in India and buying smaller quantities. It has raised $105,000 of its $150,000 target to pay for the oxygen concentrators and medicine, Mr. Jain said. It will need another $100,000 if it is furnish an ICU, he said.

Dr. Gohel and her colleagues were also hoping to provide telehealth, but they need permission from Canadian regulators. They have since shifted to advising doctors in India rather than directly dealing with patients online.

Most recently, Child Foundation expanded its effort to support the mental health of the health care providers in India. They are navigating cultural differences to prepare binders for field hospitals, including simple recommendations such as establishing a buddy system, checking in on Zoom chats and setting up a coffee station. A rental coffeemaker goes for about $850, she said.

“At 2 o’clock in the morning, when you’ve been working a really long shift, and you just need a refreshment to keep you going, that coffee machine [makes] a world of difference,” Dr. Gohel said. “We know physicians don’t perform well when they haven’t gone to the washroom, they haven’t had a break, they haven’t eaten anything, they haven’t even hydrated themselves.

“That impacts patients and it impacts themselves.”

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