SBI earmarks Rs 30 Cr to set up makeshift hospitals for COVID-19 patients

Speaking about various initiatives taken by the country's largest lender in its fight against COVID-19, Khara said SBI is also collaborating with hospitals and NGOs to provide oxygen concentrators for the patients.
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As part of the CSR initiative, the country's largest lender State Bank of India has decided to set up makeshift hospitals with ICU facilities for COVID-19 patients in some of the worst-affected states.

The bank has already earmarked Rs 30 crore and is engaging with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and hospital management for setting up medical facilities on an emergency basis for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, SBI Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara told PTI.

He said the bank intends to put in place 1,000 beds with 50 ICU facilities in the states that are the worst affected.

So, he said, it could be 120 beds at some places, while 150 at others with adequate healthcare facilities, depending on a hospital's capacity to scale up.

It is to be noted that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs last week permitted makeshift hospitals and temporary COVID-19 care facilities to be treated as an eligible Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity.

India is reeling under the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 with over three lakh cases being reported for the past eight days in a row. With each passing day, the death toll is rising.

The country witnessed a record single-day rise of 3,79,257 new coronavirus infections pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,83,76,524, while active cases crossed the 30-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

Speaking about various initiatives taken by the country's largest lender in its fight against COVID-19, Khara said SBI is also collaborating with hospitals and NGOs to provide oxygen concentrators for the patients.

"We have put in place an action plan. We have earmarked Rs 70 crore plus out of which we are giving Rs 21 crore to 17 circles for COVID-19 related initiatives," he said.

Last year, the bank had donated to the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund. SBI had contributed 0.25 percent of annual profit, while employees collected over Rs 100 crore for the fund. In addition, Rs 11 crore contribution was towards supporting vaccination drive.

For the safety of employees and their families, he said, the bank has tied up with hospitals across the country to facilitate treatment of those who have fallen sick on a priority basis.

"We are also ensuring the supply of important medicines etc so that the staff are not put to inconvenience. Various teams of medical officers are active at Local Head Offices and Zonal Offices, to oversee and coordinate COVID-19 support activities in the area under their jurisdiction," he said.

A quick response team (QRT) headed by a general manager at the corporate centre is monitoring the COVID-19 position at the entire bank-level and providing assistance at the shortest possible timeframe, he added.

With regard to vaccination, Khara said, the bank has collaborated with various hospitals for the jab.

"So far, 70,000 staff have been vaccinated out of 2.5 lakh. We are closely monitoring this number and this is expected to go up post-May 1 when it will be opened for all beyond 18 years," he said.

The bank has decided to bear the cost of vaccination for its employees and their dependent family members.

In case of unfortunate death of employees, he said, it is very difficult to replace the loss but some assistance is being provided immediately.

"We have also liberalised appointments on compassionate ground as part of assistance to dependents of those who have lost their life due to this pandemic," he said.

The bank pays an ex-gratia lump sum amount of Rs 20 lakh to the family of the employee who dies due to COVID-19 infection.

At the same time, Khara said, the bank is sensitive to the health of its customers.

The bank has been doing customer awareness campaigns on digital banking amid pandemic, he said, adding local level engagements of distributing hand sanitisers, masks, PPE kits, donation of ambulances, etc are being undertaken.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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