01/17/2022, 17.18
INDIA
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New oxygen making facility in a Vasai hospital for the poor

by Nirmala Carvalho

While India grapples with the Omicron variant, the Cardinal Gracias Memorial Hospital has installed equipment for new emergencies. Archbishop Machado urges federal minister “to tell the central government” that Christians “are an integral part of building the nation,” not its enemies.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Just as India feels the brunt of the third wave of COVID-19 (258,000 cases reported today with a positivity rate of 19.65 per cent), a Catholic hospital in Vasai (Maharashtra) has opened a new facility to produce oxygen, which will be available to all.

Archbishop of Felix Machado Vasai blessed the equipment a few days ago in a ceremony in the presence of Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The facility is in the Cardinal Gracias Memorial Hospital, built thanks to the efforts of Cardinal Valerian Gracias, archbishop of Bombay between 1950 to 1978.

“The hospital which began in 1979 with barely 20 beds; today it has reached the capacity of 140 beds,” Archbishop Machado said. Forced to borrow millions, it spared no effort to save every life, each precious in God's eyes.

“Soon after the second wave the hospital updated all its ventilators, oxygen cylinders and other instruments to face any other tragic moments.”

The hospital caters to people of all caste, class and creed. At the height of the pandemic, it boosted its capacity by 40 more beds, placed in corridors to accommodate as many people as possible. With the help of the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters, its doctors, nurses and other employees, of all faiths, put the health of the poor first.

The inauguration of the new oxygen-making equipment, the only one of its kind in Vasai’s Palghar district, is an example of positive collaboration between the hospital and the government, which provided funding. Minister Athawale praised the Church for the services it offers, especially to the poorest.

For his part, Archbishop Machado cited the many initiatives undertaken by the local Catholic Church to help the authorities deal with the pandemic; they include a recently inaugurated building made available to the local government as a quarantine entre for the sick, still used for COVID-19. A second building is used as a public warehouse to store 9,000 tonnes of grain.

“I asked the minister to tell the central government what Christians are doing and that we are an integral part of building the nation, our Mother India,” said the prelate. “This is the opposite of what some say in order to exclude us or treat as enemies of the country.”

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