Former physician for John Muir Well being says hospitals put cash forward of affected person security, cites baby’s loss of life

A former John Muir Health doctor alleges in a lawsuit that the nonprofit group, which operates hospitals in Walnut Creek and Concord, put money ahead of patient safety and ignored her warnings about surgical hazards that have resulted in illness and death.

Hospital officials dismissed the claims made by Dr. Alicia Kalamas in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Contra Costa County Superior Court.

Kalamas, who worked at John Muir Health for eight years, said she has repeatedly raised red flags at executives about improper surgical practices, only to be ignored because she was viewed as a woman with “sharp elbows” or because officials feared that Changes that would signal past practices were dangerous.

In one example, she said she warned officials not to authorize complicated surgery on a child and told them other regional hospitals were better prepared to perform the surgery. But because the hospital group’s executives wanted to build a children’s brand, they ignored her concerns, she claims in the lawsuit. Surgeons from John Muir Health performed the surgery and the child died.

In their response to that claim, John Muir Health officials said Kalamas was not directly involved in the case and could not assess the “significant risks” of continuing or not having the surgery.

Kalamas, 50, of Piedmont, sued the nonprofit and its two top executives, Cal Knight, CEO of John Muir Health, and Taejoon Ahn, president and CEO of John Muir Medical Group, alleging the group violated its contract and forced her out of her position after labeling her a troublemaker.

“People at the top of the organization have lost their way,” Kalamas told The Chronicle. “They care more about the bottom line than patient safety.”

John Muir Medical Center on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 in Walnut Creek, California.

Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

dr Russell Rodriguez, chief medical officer at John Muir Health, said that any feedback from employees is appreciated and that before executives decided not to renew Kalamas’ contract, they decided to restructure the program she administered to include “the better meet today’s patient needs”.

“The fact that the clinical consensus can differ from an individual physician’s views does not mean that he or she has been ignored,” Rodriguez said in a statement to The Chronicle. “Despite efforts to offer coaching and other support, Dr. Kalama’s reality and something she found difficult to understand and accept.”

He said that senior executives make patient safety their number one priority, noting that all the money John Muir Health makes is reinvested in the healthcare system.

Kalamas specializes in anesthesiology with a focus on perioperative medicine, which ensures that the many factors that influence surgical success – before, during and after an operation – are properly managed. In 2013, Kalamas was recruited from UCSF to join John Muir Health as medical director of the perioperative medicine program.

She quickly sought to fix the hospitals’ readmission rate for the highest-volume surgeries, which the lawsuit said was higher than the region’s 6.9% rate.

Her research found a simple problem, she says. When prescribing opiates as pain relievers after surgery, particularly for knee and hip replacements, there was no protocol to educate and provide medication to prevent constipation, resulting in patients returning to the hospital for a variety of issues.

“Millions of dollars were paid to JMH for failing to provide their patients with a 50-cent over-the-counter stool softener, a glass of water, and some basic advice,” Kalamas alleges in her lawsuit.

After her changes were implemented, the hospital saw a 27% decrease in readmissions for joint replacements, reducing costs for medical providers and taxpayers, she says.

Kalamas dealt with postoperative wound infections. Patients who have developed such infections are 60% more likely to be admitted to the ICU and five times more likely to be readmitted research. Yearly such problems costs the US health care system $3.5 to $10 billion.

In the past, John Muir Health has earned revenue from such complications and billed patients for the additional treatment, the lawsuit says. However, the federal government began to force the hospital to pay millions of dollars Punish, says Kalamas, eventually forcing it to improve. Still, Kalamas says executives and others ignored numerous emails she sent warning them that the lack of pre- and post-surgery blood glucose monitors was harming and killing patients.

The lawsuit cites an example of a diabetic who required a second operation after an infection. His heart wasn’t strong enough and he suffered a massive heart attack at home in front of his wife on the first day and later died, according to the lawsuit. Another young patient with kidney failure and diabetes did not have her blood sugar controlled and died shortly after receiving anesthesia; Her blood sugar was high when she coded, Kalamas says.

Rodriguez, John Muir’s chief medical officer, said eliminating postoperative wound infection is a “critical focus” and that restructuring the perioperative program will further reduce infections.

“Peroperative services needed to be made available to a larger proportion of the operated population, and care needed to be extended beyond the clinical setting,” he said.

Kalamas said her whistleblowing and criticism as a woman was bothersome or, as one manager told her, developed a reputation for “sharp elbows”.

“I’ve been in other institutions … and I’ve never felt dismissed,” Kalamas told The Chronicle. “I felt like at John Muir Health I was warning of very serious health and safety concerns and no one was paying attention.”

When she found out about the young child’s planned surgery, it fell outside of her area of ​​responsibility at the hospital, but she felt compelled to speak out, she says. Due to medical privacy laws, neither Kalamas nor her attorney, Dan Horowitz, could provide details about the child and the procedure.

“The case should have been referred to a qualified medical center, which Dr. Kalamas strongly encouraged her,” the lawsuit reads. “In particular, Dr. Kalamas told medical leadership that she had extensive experience with similar cases at UCSF and that JMH was massively underprepared.”

She said she told John Muir Health executives if they did the surgery it would be a “clean kill.”

After the child died, Kalamas requested a review of the case by the Medical Executive Committee, which could result in disciplinary action for those involved, disclosure to parents, and other safeguards. In a 2021 email shared with The Chronicle, Kalamas was informed that the case never went to the committee.

She recalled her earlier concerns about the surgery in an email, explaining how liver transplant and anesthesia experts agreed with her reservations.

“I was angry that JMH misrepresented the capabilities of their clinicians and the institutions’ ability to provide parents (redacted) with safe care given that UCSF, Stanford and Oakland Childrens’ are all much better equipped to to handle cases of this complexity,” she wrote. She added that she was told that John Muir health officials wanted their new pediatric center and needed to avoid disruption.

Horowitz said the child’s parents are still unaware of Kalamas’ concerns to this day.

In response to the pediatric death, Rodriguez said some cases had “extremely advanced life-threatening conditions for which any intervention is a high risk and not having an intervention is also a high risk.” He said all options were discussed with the family before the operation and since Kalamas is not part of the treatment team she would not know all the details.

He said a post-case review was conducted through the peer review process, but Kalamas would not be aware of any assessment as it is confidential.

As of May 31, 2021, Kalamas said her contract was allowed to expire. Since then she has not returned to a hospital.

Matthias Gafni is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail: matthias.gafni@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @mgafni

Hospitals are spending extra money to rent and retain well being care employees throughout the pandemic. That is dangerous for his or her margins.

Hospitals are facing staff shortages made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wall Street analysts are increasingly concerned that there are insufficient staff for these facilities, which is hurting margins.

“The surge in COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant continues to exacerbate hospital staff shortages, hinder recruitment and retention, drive up wages and hurt hospital profitability,” Moody’s Investors Service said Tuesday. “Over the course of the next year, we expect margins to decline in light of wage inflation, the use of expensive care agencies, increased recruitment and retention efforts, and expanded service packages that include more behavioral health services and offers such as childcare.”

There are several problems involved.

Nursing staff and doctors have been in short supply in some parts of the country for years. Many have burned out – and after 20 months of the pandemic, some are choosing to retire or quit. (A recent survey of 6,000 critical care workers found that 66% considered quitting nursing because of the pandemic.)

“There is no question that the labor market has been under pressure for some time with COVID activity,” said William Rutherford, CFO of HCA Healthcare Inc.
HCA, -0.77%,
one of the largest hospital chains in the US said at the Morgan Stanley Health Care Conference last month, according to a FactSet transcript of the presentation.

Then came the Delta variant and an increase in hospital admissions, which in particular increased the need for nurses to care for COVID-19 patients.

Many hospitals have had to limit or discontinue elective procedures, which are considered critical to their financial success, in order to focus their resources on these patients.

This includes Intermountain Healthcare, Utah’s largest hospital system, which began postponing all non-urgent procedures in 13 nonprofit hospitals due to lack of beds in mid-September. That same week, Idaho began rationing care to hospitals there, citing the “massive increase in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization in all areas of the state.”

“In some US regions, hospitals have suspended elective overnight operations, not only because of an increase in cases, but also because of insufficient staffing, which led to a decline in sales,” the analysts from Moody’s write in the report.

And finally some workers made up their minds quit or get fired instead of following the COVID-19 vaccination regulations introduced by some health organizations.

Add all these factors together and consider that salaries and benefits typically make up half the total cost of a hospital.

Hospitals now have to pay their workers more, including hiring more expensive temporary or travel nurses; spend more on social benefits and other “perks” to keep; and increase the amount of money they invest in recruiting clinical talent. (This is a good thing for healthcare recruitment agencies like AMN Healthcare Services Inc.
AMN, -0.33%
and Cross Country Healthcare Inc.
CCRN, + 1.69%,
Analysts say.)

“When COVID spikes occur, hospital beds will primarily be assigned to COVID patients and non-COVID admissions will be postponed,” Jefferies analysts wrote this week in a notice to investors on nonprofit hospitals. “If we leave the delta rise, we believe that demand for temporary nurses will weaken from current levels, but will remain elevated (lower placement rates compared to current average) as postponed admissions and procedures are rescheduled.”

The delta rise subsides, and the number of new cases, hospital admissions and deaths are falling. The current 7-day average for COVID-19 hospital admissions is 7,271 (as of Friday), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s already lower than last week’s 7-day average of 8,378, but that doesn’t mean all hospitals aren’t ready.

“Even if the average daily COVID hospital stays are decreasing, we continue to see many hospitals and intensive care units across the country operating at full capacity,” said CDC director Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday during a briefing at the White House.

Read more about related coverage from MarketWatch:

New York health workers who are laid off for getting vaccinated are in most cases not eligible for unemployment benefits

“You have to do the right thing”: 50 health groups ask employers to prescribe COVID vaccines for workers – but one major obstacle remains

Court Upholds Houston Hospital’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: “All Employment Has Restrictions On Worker Behavior”

Colorado’s greatest hospitals made cash throughout pandemic

When the coronavirus shut down Colorado last spring, fears rose that the state’s hospitals would get into financial trouble.

In order to quickly focus on caring for sick COVID-19 patients, hospitals paused lucrative voting procedures. Patients skipped the usual visits. Hospitals have pumped money into buying protective gear and converting floors into coronavirus units. Estimates of lost revenue ran into the billions of dollars.

But a new report released by a state agency on Aug. 18 concludes that Colorado’s major hospital systems ultimately made profits despite the challenges in 2020.

The better-than-expected performance was due in part to revenue recovering in the summer when normal operations resumed, in part to capital gains from a rallying stock market, and in part to federal stimulus dollars.

Looking at the national operating margins for six different systems that hospitals operate in Colorado, the state Department of Health Policy and Funding found that four of them – UCHealth, HealthONE, Banner Health, and AdventHealth, which are part of Centura Health – were either profit or loss even broke before stimulus monies were taken into account.
Including the boost from those stimulus dollars, two other systems – SCL Health and CommonSpirit, which make up the other half of Centura Health – also rose to profitability.

“All of Colorado’s major hospital systems had operating profits in 2020 with no need to use reserves, which is a significant finding,” the report said.

The situation is different for rural and independent hospitals in Colorado. Often times, these smaller hospitals held enough cash to cover only three months into the future and needed the lifeline that the stimulus money provided.

Even then, some of them – like Boulder Community Health or the Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center in Fruita – lost money last year, according to the report.

Highest profit margins in the country

The analysis was one of two released on Aug. 18, highlighting the strong profits and high prices of some of Colorado’s largest hospitals.

The other analysis, taken from annual financial reports that hospitals are required to file with the federal government, found that Colorado hospitals had the highest profit margins in the country and the sixth highest prices in the country in 2018, the most recent year for which data exist.

That confirms an analysis presented to a health care advocacy group in Colorado earlier this year. And it comes after years of reports of increasing profit margins for the largest hospitals and systems in the state.

The new report found that Colorado hospitals posted profits of $ 2.9 billion in 2018 – a profit margin of 15.6% compared to the national median profit margin of 6.5%. The prices billed to patients were 22.8% above the national median in 2018, a significant increase from 2009 when prices were 9.2% above the national median, according to the report.

“Our hospitals got worse when it came to prices,” said Kim Bimestefer, chief executive of the Department of Health Policy and Funding.

In a statement, the Colorado Hospital Association said the 2018 numbers are “a reminder of why Colorado hospitals have worked diligently to make health care affordable for Coloradans.”

The association referred to the legislature’s many years of work to lower insurance prices, for which hospitals were often at the negotiating table. The result is that while hospital prices can be high, insurance premium prices are among the lowest in the country for some buyers.

“Colorado hospitals are committed to their employees, patients and communities and will continue to partner with innovative and effective ways to improve affordability and access to quality care,” the association said.

Praise for the work of the hospitals

The reports are the latest volleys in Governor Jared Polis’s battle against large hospital systems that Polis said is ripping off Colorado patients. And they show how HCPF, the state agency overseeing Medicaid in Colorado, has gone from being a quirky health insurance administrator to an all-purpose price fighter under Polis. Spending on Medicaid in hospitals accounts for about 9% of the total state budget.

But the reports also land at a delicate moment. As much as state officials want to take over the hospital awards and profits, they are also cautious about playing their hand on hospitals that have worked closely with the state to respond to the pandemic and have been hailed as one of its heroes.

Bimestefer praised the work of the hospitals on August 18.

“Ultimately, we are extremely grateful,” said Bimestefer. “We need these hospitals. You took care of our people. You saved lives. “

However, she said the reports highlight the lessons that need to be learned and the changes that need to be implemented. Future stimulus funds could, for example, take into account the amount of reserves that a hospital must draw from. Large hospitals could rethink their pricing and investments by focusing on delivering great community benefits and reducing inequalities in care.

“Sometimes when you are going through the toughest times, these are the times for the most transformative changes,” said Bimestefer. “We know we have to transform.”

This story comes from The Colorado Sun, a Denver-based journalistic news agency that covers the state. For more information and support for The Colorado Sun, visit coloradosun.com. The Colorado Sun is a partner of the Colorado News Conservancy, owner of Colorado Community Media.

Who’s earning money in 2021? A have a look at hospitals and well being plans after Covid-19.

The Covid-19 pandemic rocked the health industry last year, but what can health systems and health plans expect financially?

Advisory Board‘s Natalie Trebes and Christopher Kerns sit down with Rachel Woods of Radio Advisory to discuss the financial outlook for health systems and health plans for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

Read a slightly edited excerpt from the interview below and download the episode for the full interview.

Rachel Woods: The financial outlook is very different, not only because of the very specific conditions of the crisis we are going through, but also because one segment of the industry will not look like another. And even if you look at the same segments over the same time period, we still see differences. Christopher, how was the performance distribution on the hospital side of the industry?


Radio Advisory Playlist: Consequences with Financial Impact

Christopher Kerns: If we look at the numbers on sales development, margin performance and overall cash flow performance, we found that by the end of 2020 even the 25th percentile of high performers performed a little better than the year before, which I think surprised a lot of people, but also the 75th percentile of the performers.

So what we saw was a growing gap between the haves and the haves when it came to hospitals and health systems. The larger, financially stronger organizations thus fared better and extended their lead over smaller organizations.

Well, that’s not true across the board, there have been a number of large organizations that have struggled and there have been a number of smaller organizations that have thrived, but by and large we have seen an expansion of the performance in 2020 that we have have not seen several years.

Forest: And what is your prediction of how this gap will change over time? Do we expect it to continue expanding or maybe move back to where it was in 2019?

Kerns: I would expect at least some stability of this gap, if not an increase in the course of the year. And one of the main reasons for that is the huge cost increases we’ve seen down the line – labor, materials, technology – and these will hit disproportionately smaller businesses that either don’t have the financial cushion or, frankly, the flexibility to handle them To bear costs or to adopt different personnel, supply or technology models. So I think we will see a slightly larger expansion between the haves and the haves in the course of 2021, and probably through 2022 as well.

Forest: Natalie, is the problem of having and not having the same problem with health insurance?

Natalie Trebes: Yes, I don’t think it’s that extreme, or rather, I think there are the have-a-little and the have-many rather than the haves and the have-nots, but the big variable for the plans is theirs Enrollment mix. And I think it’s worth teasing this out based on the health plan type.


Vendor’s financial outlook: continued recovery in volume – but modest margin gains and large volatility across the board

The big national plans you see now are making headlines for their massive gains, there is a reason; With their different companies, they are particularly well positioned for such school shifts. Most of them have really sizable Medicaid businesses. So they were willing to take some of that decline in employer coverage right into their own business, rather than lose it to other plans. In my opinion Cigna and Centene are both interesting outliers there; Cigna is pretty heavily focused on the commercial space, Centene is pretty heavily focused on the Medicaid space. But in general, the extremely high profit margins may be causing a stir right now, but these are blind enrollment shifts. And again, they’ll pay back the discounts later.

Forest: What about plans that are a little smaller? I think like a regional blues plan, what do we see there?

Trebes: Well, in my opinion the blues plans are particularly special, they are usually very difficult in the employers’ area, both self-financed and fully financed. And I make this distinction because it’s worth noting that a fully funded business is more profitable than a self-funded business.

Therefore, a decline in employer coverage can be particularly painful for them compared to nationals, who are largely self-financed. And then again because of this mix, they had less opportunity to capture this new Medicaid registration.

And finally, they are deeply integrated into their local market. So any kind of regional variation of what was going on with the economy or Covid policy will hit them more dramatically. So if we look at the blues, there is a range of about 12 percentage points in the margins over the blues from minus 5% to 7% positive. So the haves and the have-nots really play out in the blues room.

Forest: And what about the even smaller plans, I think the local ones?

Results
Results of the strategic planner survey 2021 2021

Trebes: This is where the differences in portfolio and geography become even more extreme, but on average these plans have tended to increase enrollment in the government sector, and particularly Medicaid and individuals.

I want to highlight the vendor sponsored local plans because they have this entire arm, the hospital system, that struggled at the start of the pandemic. And so I think a lot of them felt they really needed to focus on maintaining that low of care.

So they may not come out at the end of the year even if they’ve had growth at Medicaid or individuals in the same place as some of these national plans.

Forest: And all of this really comes back to back up our point that the headlines are on the attention grabbing story but won’t capture all of the differences between hospitals, between healthcare systems, or across the industry.

I’m surprised we haven’t talked about Medicare Advantage yet. And I think that’s because it’s really away from discussions that revolve around things like employment and insurance. What Happens in Medicare Advantage for Plans?

Trebes: So I think the really big story that is not talked about that much is the shifts. The growth of Medicare Advantage is really critical to plans right now for several reasons. It’s not tied to business cycles, so it’s a bit isolated from all of the rest of the churn we see everywhere else.

The margins are extremely high and it really is the only way that new growth plans have. So they get enrolled in Medicare Advantage by switching from traditional state Medicare to their own, while in other businesses they have to steal that market share from other plan competitors.

Cerberus Quadruples Cash After Uncommon Exit From Catholic Hospitals

Cerberus Capital ManagementRecords show that Wall Street made approximately $ 800 million in profit from its investment in Catholic hospitals.

The New York-based private equity firm has quadrupled its money over a decade this month, according to internal documents and a federal filing.

Cerberus was co-founded by billionaire Stephen Feinberg and carried out an unusual exit. The remaining interest has been shifted to doctors working in the hospital society rather than going public or selling to a rival.

Photographer: Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post / Getty Images

Cerberus bought Caritas Christi Health Care In 2010, they paid $ 246 million in cash for hospitals in Massachusetts, which included the flagship St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. The company that founded Cerberus Steward Health Care, expanded into a large hospital chain, as it was also burdened with a high debt burden.

Private equity firms that said they are bringing business efficiency to an obsolete industry reached $ 288 billion Health agreement in the past five years according to a report from the advisor Bain & Co..

Such investments have been vetted by members of Congress, consumer groups, and academics who say corporate use of debt puts pressure on medical providers to cut costs and affects quality.

Dr. Wall street

Private equity firms are heavily involved in healthcare

Source: Bain & Co.

In a statement, a Cerberus spokesperson said its collaboration with Steward enabled $ 800 million to be spent on infrastructure, technology and top staff, and helped restructure failing hospitals and transform them into a “world-class responsible care organization.”

Legislators have too questions raised through private equity hospitals Receive tax money during the pandemic because they could get help from their investors instead. PE firms said they have a duty to act in the best interests of customers. The federal government provided stewards altogether $ 675 million Bloomberg reported on grants and loans in September.

Steward’s current and former employees complained of staff shortages and supply bottlenecks, and a government agency gave the company the lowest ranking for solvency, Bloomberg Businessweek reported in August.

Read Businessweek: Life and Debt in a Private Equity Hospital

stewardThe Dallas-based company has improved its care and has plenty of cash to meet its obligations. The company currently serves 34 hospitals in nine states as well as five in Malta and Colombia and an extensive network of medical practices.

In the deal, Cerberus made its money through a series of complicated transactions involving a public real estate company called Call Medical Properties Trustbased in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 2016, Cerberus made most of its money selling valuable hospital properties to the Real Estate Investment Trust, which then leased them back to the hospitals. This transaction enabled Cerberus to generate hundreds of millions in dividends for its investors. The Medical Properties Trust ultimately had a nearly 10% stake in Steward.

In May 2020, Cerberus took a first step towards its exit. It transferred ownership of Steward to a group of in-house doctors in exchange for a note stating periodic interest payments that could be converted back into equity.

“Under the leadership of doctors, Steward Health Care continues to invest in the long-term health and wellbeing of our local communities,” the company said in a statement.

In January, according to a May, Steward borrowed $ 335 million from the Medical Properties Trust to buy the note from Cerberus Filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Cerberus said it sold the note at a discount.

Cerberus said it had timed the deal, its final exit, to ensure Steward had access to capital when needed, and that the fund’s investment was “deeply in liquidation.”

Before it’s here, it’s in the Bloomberg Terminal.

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folks use social media to search out hospitals, drugs

A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) looks after a Covid-19 patient at a Covid-19 care center set up in the Shehnai Banquet Hall and at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP ), one of the largest COVID-19 institutions.

Naveen Sharma | SOPA pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images

As India’s devastating second wave of the coronavirus outbreak overwhelmed the healthcare system, desperate users turned to social media to seek help from the public as hospital beds and oxygen supplies became scarce.

People who need help for themselves or their relatives have made inquiries on websites like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Others gathered information about hospital bed availability, as well as contact details for oxygen cylinder providers and other scarce resources. In many cases, the efforts have helped save lives.

“Quite often we just hear one very dystopian social media narrative in which political polarization is increasing and causing deep levels of social harm,” said Apar Gupta, executive director of Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital freedom organization in India, told CNBC.

“But social media also has the potential to bring people together,” he said, explaining why it is important to fight for the right kind of incentive-based system design and algorithmic accountability when it comes to social media.

“I think this Covid disaster, which continues in India, shows the promise that social media can be used as a tool for organizing relief supplies and calling for greater political accountability at all levels – from our health officials to decision-makers who Set budgets, “said Gupta.

Social media cannot replace the core responsibility of the state to help citizens in times of crisis.

Ankur bisen

Technopak consultant

#CovidSOS

Twitter hashtags like #CovidSOS and #CovidEmergency became popular with users searching for hospital beds, ventilators, and oxygen bottles. The retweet feature helped expand their inquiries.

Strangers banded together to help each other through the unprecedented crisis.

Volunteers have gathered up-to-date information in Google Sheets, which is widely shared on social platforms.

Some set up websites Tracking the availability of vaccines while others created apps This has generated links to Twitter search that users can use to find Covid-19 resources in their cities. Many people also volunteered to prepare homemade meals for patients who were quarantined at home while others offered help with tasks such as grocery shopping.

For its part, Twitter added a Covid-19 resource page expand the visibility of information.

Social media influencers, celebrities, and politicians also participated in the crowdsourcing effort. Some of them helped organize beds and oxygen bottles as India’s daily caseload rose in April and early May.

Although Twitter has become the most visible social media platform in India’s crowdsourcing efforts due to its ability to amplify inquiries and tag influencers and politicians, Gupta said other platforms have been used extensively as well.

He said volunteers also came together in WhatsApp groups to focus on more detailed communities like housing associations and alumni groups. Gen-Z – or those born between 1996 and early 2010 – and younger millennials turned to Instagram, he said.

Daily cases in India have peaked at more than 414,000 new infections per day, which was reached on May 7th. However, experts say the virus is spreading in rural India, where health infrastructure is not prepared for unexpected surges.

On Twitter, which has a greater impact in the urban centers of India compared to rural areas, users have already started gathering resources and initiatives to respond to the outbreak in India’s countryside.

Deficiencies in the Indian health system

Users who turned to social media for help also reflected how ill-prepared the Indian health system was to respond to a sudden response Increase in cases. Growing case numbers and rising death tolls exposed the deep-seated problems that exist in the Indian health system after decades of neglect and underinvestment.

“Social media cannot replace the core responsibility of the state to help citizens in times of crisis,” Ankur Bisen, senior vice president of Indian management consultancy Technopak Advisors, told CNBC. It can only act as a complementary channel and not replace the core functions of the state such as disaster management and health care, he said.

Bisen added that in this case, social media is the only option for many as the other media are lacking – this only poorly reflects how central and state governments are struggling to cope with the Covid-19 crisis, he said .

“The state often has to deal with disasters and ensure that it communicates and comforts the citizens, that the state is watching their backs, which it has not done here,” Bisen said. He added that social media “is always a complementary medium and can never be the main driver in managing disasters”.

Gupta of the Internet Freedom Foundation said some of the volunteers had been threatened by the authorities for their informal and legal efforts.

Local media reported last month Some Covid-19 aid groups that provide hospital beds and oxygen information through messaging apps like WhatsApp, Discord and Telegram disbanded, while some online resource trackers were deleted.

Volunteers complained about police threats demanding their closure – but they did Police denied make such demands. In Uttar Pradesh it is BBC reported Police charged a man who tried Twitter to find oxygen for his dying grandfather.

India’s Supreme Court is said to have said There shouldn’t be a clampdown when people voice their complaints about issues like lack of oxygen and others on social platforms. It came after the federal government under new regulations, ordered social platforms to remove posts critical to dealing with the pandemic, according to the New York Times.

Social media fraud

Another unfortunate outcome was the spread of a black market for resourcesGupta said malicious actors on social media cheated on vulnerable people.

“While social media – Twitter in particular – has broadly mitigated the harmful effects of the current wave, I would say that it has actually saved lives, it has also shown that there is very little tolerance for opinion and expression Freedom of expression exists, “he said.

Additionally, “there are law and order issues that always arise due to social interaction … and certain participants may use them maliciously,” he added.

Gupta added that the efforts of the volunteer groups continue to this day, but state services have also caught up to some extent.