WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As India grapples with a massive surge of COVID-19 cases, causing the country's medical system to melt down, a South Florida organization is working overtime to provide relief to patients and their families.
"Doctors are overwhelmed.," said Dr. Sheela Shah, who practices internal medicine in North Palm Beach. "They are just overwhelmed because of the epic proportions of cases."
Shah helped found the Female Indian Physicians of Florida in 2018, an organization made up of roughly 150 doctors of different specialties. The group is working feverishly to raise money to send resources to India as quickly as possible.
"It is such a terrible situation," Shah said. "What we need is some help for our people, and every dollar counts."
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The COVID-19 death toll in India has topped 200,000. The country now has the fourth-highest coronavirus death toll in the world behind the United States, Brazil, and Mexico.
Shah said COVID-19 cases began exploding in April due to the emergence of a second variant of the virus in that country.
"[India] put their guard down since the cases started to go down from September to February of this year," Shah said. "People felt like they are off the hook and the pandemic is coming to, probably, an end."
The sudden surge in cases led to a "total meltdown of the medical system," Shah said, with hospitals running out of oxygen tanks and ventilators.
Shah said South Florida has a significant Indian population, and many residents have loved ones affected by the pandemic in India.
"They feel helpless," Shah said. "Their families are suffering and there is nothing they can do right now."
FIPOF is now collecting donations which the organization will use to send oxygen tanks, ventilators, vaccine resources, and other essential items to India.
"We need to be there holding their hands and helping through this terrible time," Shah said.
To donate to the Female Indian Physicians of Florida, click here or send an email to Fipof2018@gmail.com.