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Bengaluru’s ‘doctor on wheels’ works 20 hours a day, has treated 250 patients since Covid

Dr Sunil Kumar Hebbi has been running a mobile clinic for 11 years. Since pandemic struck, he works nights at a BBMP Covid clinic, and then drives across Bengaluru to help patients.

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Bengaluru: A day in the life of Sunil Kumar Hebbi is slightly different to those of other doctors. Unmindful of the Covid-19 situation, Dr Hebbi goes around Bengaluru with his mobile clinic to treat patients, Covid afflicted or not, and works close to 20 hours a day.

After completing his night shift (8 pm to 8 am) at a Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Covid clinic, where he works on a contractual basis, the 37-year-old Hebbi, a former resident doctor at BGS Global Hospitals, takes a two-hour break, and by 10 am, he is ready to zip across Bengaluru to help patients who those stay alone or cannot travel to hospitals — senior citizens or those with mild Covid symptoms.

Hebbi had started the mobile clinic service 11 years ago, but before the pandemic, he would run it on weekends to help people in need of medical care. But after the lockdown, the calls to his number went up exponentially, which made him step up his efforts to those without immediate access to medical care.

Within a month of extending the clinic’s work hours, he has been able to treat close to 250 patients, he told ThePrint.

“In the last 13 years, there have been more than 90,000 patients that we have treated across Bengaluru. I always carry medicines, a glucometer, oxygen tank, BP monitor, ECG machine among other essential equipment in my car at all times,” he said.

Patients approach Dr Hebbi over WhatsApp or Facebook. He plans his trips based on their messages, and tells each patient his approximate time of arrival, so they can rest assured that help is on its way.

Also read: A Bengaluru woman returned from Kumbh, tested positive for Covid & ‘infected 33 people’

Early difficulties, 2010 incident inspired mobile clinic

Hebbi’s own family faced difficulties when it came to medical emergencies, influencing him to start a mobile clinic. He belongs to the tiny hamlet of Namadapura in Vijayapura district, and graduated from the Bijapur Medical College in 2007.

“I have seen how my parents or people from my village had to travel several kilometres before they could get access to medical care. The closest primary health centre was nearly 50 kilometres away, and it was so difficult when it was an emergency,” he recalled.

But the immediate inspiration for the clinic came after an incident in 2010 — Hebbi was travelling on the Hosur-Chennai highway when he saw an accident victim on the road. He administered first aid and rushed him to the closest hospital.

“I was touched when the mother of the victim called me a day later and thanked me for saving her only child. I told her that I did my duty just as any other doctor or citizen would have done,” he said.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

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