Imagine a heart patient experiencing pain in the chest with no medical care available close at hand. How does one administer first-aid while awaiting professional help?
It is exactly for such emergencies that the Asian Heart Institute (AHI) on Monday launched a 24-hour heart helpline number (126-126) which was launched by Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, Governor SC Jamir and actor Akshay Kumar.
“Not only would we provide intervention and tell the patient or his relative what to do in emergencies, but (will also) despatch an ambulance,” said AHI’s Vice-Chairman and Chief Cardio-vascular Thoracic surgeon Dr Ramakant Panda. The ambulance, he said, would within 30 minutes to take the patient to a hospital of his choice.
The institute also launched a fleet of air-ambulance services to air lift patients from far off places.
While lauding the effort to set up the heart helpline, Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss urged doctors to concentrate on the preventive aspect of medicine and not emergencies. “The smoking ban has been implemented successfully so far. Besides, another risk factor for heart disease is dietary habits,” he said, adding, “From March 19, nutritional labeling of all packaged food would be made compulsory.”
“We have tied up with a helicopter service provider. The service costs about Rs 85,000 per hour and an average call would take between 2-3 hours,” said Dr Akil Khan, in-charge of the helpline project.
“For people within the city, we have 67 cardiac ambulances,” said Dr Khan. The average cost of a cardiac ambulance is Rs 1,500 per trip, adding that people going to government hospitals would not be charged.
Besides medical aid, the hospital has also borne in mind the need for urgent cash in such emergencies. “People opting to come to AHI will get a spot loan of Rs 50,000 at 10 per cent rate of interest. The loan is payable in six months’ time,” said Dr Panda, adding that people often did not have money to tide over the medical crisis.