Glenary’s – the iconic restaurant, bakery and confectionary in Darjeeling – has offered to set up an isolation centre on its top floor to treat Covid-19 patients free of cost.
The isolation centre is expected to take off from Sunday and is awaiting permission from the chief medical officer of Darjeeling district.
Located a stone’s throw away from the mall, Glenary’s is a three-storey building, the top floor of which used to house the restaurant. The restaurant and the pub on the ground floor are now closed. The bakery on the first floor is, however, open with only take away facilities.
Ajoy Edwards the owner of Glenary’s and the head of Edwards Foundation said: “As the number of Covid-19 patients is on the rise and Darjeeling has limited infrastructure to house them, we decided to come forward and lend a helping hand in this war-like situation.”
The oldest confectionery in town– Glenary’s is one of the main attractions for tourists and locals alike. It has a rich history and dates back around 130 years.
Though Darjeeling district hospital has allocated 65 beds for Covid-19 patients, the number of patients is far more.
“Many Covid 19 patients are forced to go down to Siliguri to private nursing homes and spend lakhs of rupees,” said Edwards.
Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills have limited infrastructure and facilities to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. Though in Kalimpong district, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has a dedicated 150-bed Covid-19 hospital at Tribeni near the confluence of River Teesta and River Ranjit; it lacks ICU and other super-specialty facilities.
Some social organisations have set up a few safe homes in the hills. Glenary’s Covid-19 isolation centre, if it becomes operational, would be a welcome facility for the people of the hills as it would be free.
In Siliguri, the nearest biggest town in the region, a private safe home for those Covid-19 patients whose reports are now negative is charging ₹1500 per room and ₹500 for food daily. A room can accommodate two persons.
Edwards said, “We have written to health officials, offering the restaurant section of the building, to be converted into an isolation ward, with basic oxygen support. The entrance to the restaurant is separate from the pub and the bakery and will be completely barred from them.”
With the restaurant already closed, the bakery at present is only offering takeaways and home delivery.
“We are doing this with the Darjeeling Initiative and Edward’s Foundation, with medical support to be provided by Planter’s Nursing Home,” Edwards said.
Praloy Acharya, chief medical officer of Darjeeling district said, “Our team will visit the place before deciding on the permission.”
The isolation centre will initially have 20 beds which can be later increased to 40.