The Hindustan Times Trailblazer Award 2021 : Dr Arjun Dang
At 33 years of age and barely four years as the CEO of Dr Dangs Labs, Dr Arjun Dang cuts a confident picture. What it does to the business is for everyone to see, but what it means for his patients is a story that needs to be told. “The recovery to any disease has a lot of psychosomatic role also in it. The constant motivation, guidance and accessibility of the doctor are very important. Doctors have to be empathetic towards their patients,” he says.
Acting swiftly on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Dang launched drive-through Covid-19 testing centres in Delhi. Beginning with the first drive-through in the Central Market area of Punjabi Bagh and then expanding to Saket and Khel Gaon, he and his team ensured that people could get tested with maximum safety and minimum interaction.
“I was inspired by the Covid-19 drive-through centres in countries like Korea and the US. The entire drive-through was planned in a way to make the process completely seamless, safe and most importantly, very quick and convenient. This made it the first, one-of-its-kind facility in India,” shares Dang who has a Clinical Fellowship in Liver Pathology from King’s College Hospital, London.
To get a drive-through test done, patients need to register on the lab’s website, enter their vehicle number, and give the government-mandated Aadhar Card details. The lab then gives a call back specifying the exact time of the test. “The acknowledgement email gives the exact Google location of the drive-through centre. Each car gets a 5-10 minute time slot. Once the identity is checked, swab samples are taken. From booking the test to getting the report, the entire process is contactless. Even the payments can only be made online,” he explains.
The drive-through facility also helped instil a sense of safety. “For home collection of samples, people used to be apprehensive that the sample collector who would have visited a dozen houses before them is coming to their house could be a possible carrier of the virus. Although many labs followed the highest standards of infection control protocol, that anxiety remained,” he says, adding that they have tested approximately 80,000 patients at these drive-through facilities.
The first centre was set up in the beginning of April, 2020; to launch a new entity and make people aware of it in the middle of a lockdown came with its unique set of challenges. “A small thing as printing a banner became a problem. My wife and I stayed up the night printing it from our home printer. But when there is a demand, people automatically find out where to get it. Social media and news channels also helped spread the word,” he shares, adding that there came a time when they were working over their capacity. “Initially, people were new to the concept of a drive-through so they were only trickling in. But by mid-May, we were unable to accommodate the number of bookings. In the months of September to November, we were actually at 200% of our capacity on a daily basis. Slowly and steadily, the infectivity, overall test requests, and also people who are still infected with covid have shown a drastic drop,” he says.
Taking over the reins of an iconic institution established in 1983 came as big responsibility for this second generation doctor, but with his expertise and ingenuity, he has ably taken the labs to newer successes. “The pandemic has been a huge learning curve for me and my entire team. All of us were thrown into the deep side of the pool and with God’s grace and our team’s hard work, we have made it through,” says the proud recipient of HT Trailblazer award.
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