India's national flag and USA national flaf

A Tale of Two Countries – in Need of Each Other

This week half of California’s largest metro areas are in the State’s least restrictive Yellow Tier. And, in Orange County, 40% of the residents are fully vaccinated, and 91% have had at least one shot. Little wonder California’s Governor Newsom believes we’re less than a month away from “fully reopening,” on June 15th – as our “surges” appear to be behind us.

Graph chart displaying daily new Covid cases in the U.S.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, India’s population of 1.4 Billion is suffering from a massive COVID surge…

Graph chart displaying daily new Covid cases in India

…that’s crippling not only the largest democracy on the planet, but America’s “back office.” With India’s colonial roots, about 130 million Indians speak English as their first, second, or third language; and the country’s IT workforce accounts for nearly four and a half million employees, according to Wikipedia – not including the nearly 80,000 Indian ex-pats currently working in the U.S. on H-1B visas for the largest Indian IT companies – like Infosys, Wipro, and Tata– plus the millions more who are working for over 2000 Business Process Outsourcing, IT, and Call Center companies, in India – on behalf of Americans, including 130,000 working for IBM alone.

Six years ago when I visited Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur – the largest in the Rajasthan area, I was impressed with its 6251 beds – and the fact that its 1500 doctors and 4000 nurses not only treated patients in its beds, but an additional 10,000 patients a day in its out-patient departments – in “normal” times. At the time there were also 168 ICU beds, where the nurse staffing allowed for one nurse for every 6-7 beds. I was also told by my host, Dr. Suneet Singh Ranawat, the Hospital’s Deputy Superintendent (basically, the COO) that when the hospital was overwhelmed, an additional 15,000 patients could end up on mats on the floor.

I can well imagine that this is one of those times. In early May, Dhruv Khullar, MD, wrote in The New Yorker about the experiences of Dr. Rajat Arora, an interventional cardiologist, who’s “constantly working the phones to procure what’s needed for basic COVID-19 care: oxygen, ventilators, immunosuppressive medications, antiviral drugs, and the like.” He and other administrators also field upward of a thousand requests a day for the approximately 30 beds that will become available each day, when someone is discharged, or dies. As he says, “If I put up a thousand-bed hospital today, it would be full in an hour.” Clearly the highly contagious variant, B.1.617 is accelerating the damage.

India hospital with doctors treating Covid-19 patients

Photo: PTI

As an example of how this plays out for thousands of American companies with employees in India, we’ve heard anecdotally from some of our members that they’re hiring temps to help fill in for upwards of two-thirds of their employees who are out sick with COVID – and help cover for the 100% of their staff who are concerned about – if not personally caring for – sick family members.  We’ve also heard that price gouging is going on now, given a few months ago anyone could purchase two vaccines for 200 rupees – less than $3.00. While today, if you can find them, they’re 4000 rupees, nearly $55, per dose.” Further, in many hospital beds, sometimes entire families are being cared for in each bed.

While initially, we were hearing from our Members who have employees and family members in India that they couldn’t get these vital supplied into the country, now it seems some progress is being made by the U.S. government sending a $100 million worth of test kits, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, and PPE; Europe is now sending syringes, oxygen generators, and ventilators; and Russia’s sending 150,000 doses of Sputnik V, their vaccine. But the needs are still great. In addition to UNICEF, Americares, the Indian Red Cross Society, and Oxygen for India, you’ll find a long list of worthy organizations in The New York Times that are providing money for meals, medical expenses, PPE, and oxygen tanks, among other essential supplies. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the people who answer our customer support calls, and insure our “invisible” back offices run as smoothly as our American front offices.


ABL Healthcare and Technology InsightsBy Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Healthcare and Technology Companies