arpita Chatterjee *10

Although she lives in Sydney, Australia, Arpita Chatterjee *10 watched in distress at the reports of the coronavirus pandemic in her native India. Partnering with a friend in Belgium, one in California, and another in Arkansas, the four began Save Our Saviours, an international effort to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to public hospitals in the Indian state of West Bengal.

Chatterjee, whose parents and extended family live in West Bengal’s Kolkata, knew that hospital staffs in the region would face enormous difficulties. She grew up in Kolkata, in a neighborhood very close to a major public hospital. She had visited it for emergency injuries, most recently in 2018.

“I have always seen the corridors and every conceivable space in the hospital overflowing with patients,” she said. “In March, when there was international news of COVID patients being treated in corridors of Italian hospitals, I trembled at the thought of what might happen in public hospitals in Bengal and India, where treating patients in corridors is really an everyday phenomenon.”

That was the initial trigger for the senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales, as she and her friends from undergraduate and graduate days sent WhatsApp messages around the globe to rally help. Their networking expanded beyond the core group and, through a friend of Chatterjee’s best friend’s brother, to two Rotary International clubs.

Rotary is a worldwide nonprofit organization of professionals who engage in humanitarian service projects, and working with the Rotary Club of Belur in the Indian state of West Bengal, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Singapore, allowed Save Our Saviours to apply for a matching funds global grant of $25,000 from Rotary International.

Save Our Saviours has tallied $15,000 in two weeks, Chatterjee said. The plan is to use those funds to supply local hospitals with at least 5,000 PPE kits. Meanwhile, the group is “constantly approaching larger organizations, alumni organizations, Bengali associations, other clubs and possibly grants foundations so that we can raise money for ventilators.” According to Chatterjee, the lack of life-saving equipment is “scary”: there are only 392 ventilators in the public hospitals (where COVID patients are being treated for free) for the 90 million-plus population.

The first thing the Princeton economics Ph.D. checks every morning is the West Bengal health department bulletin. She follows the news from several local, national and international media outlets and talks with her extended family in Kolkata every day. And she networks with a WhatsApp group of almost 150 alumni from various schools and colleges in Kolkata, discussing problems and brainstorming possible solutions.

Although worlds apart, West Bengal and Princeton have a connection, Chatterjee said: the state of West Bengal has the largest natural habitat of Bengal tigers. She hopes that connection will strengthen support for Save Our Saviours.

Connect with Save Our Saviours through its website, Facebook or Twitter.

#TellUsTigers Q&A: Tanesha Brown, nurse manager, University Health Services

#TellUsTigers Q&A: Tanesha Brown, nurse manager, University Health Services

Mar 20, 2020 Community , Health Care

Tanesha Brown, the nurse manager at University Health Services, is a critical member of the University’s coronavirus preparedness team, working with a broad range of departments and colleagues across campus. She reflects on addressing the fear of the unknown, how she practices self-care and the most important things she wants people to know during the coronavirus crisis. Read more …


University president uses medical degree to help inform university COVID-19 response

Mar 17, 2020 Education , Health Care , News

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel ’79 ran an immunobiology lab for 20 years and is a board-certified internist. That background helped him see the potential scale of the pandemic, and to make decisions about students overseas and in-person instruction, sooner than he might have otherwise. He was also better equipped to communicate with experts through that process.

Read more about how he and other university presidents responded here.

Jordan Salama

When It’s Safer to Stay Apart

Mar 23, 2020 Community , Health Care

Jordan Salama ’19 shares the story of his family leaving New York City, while his father, an infectious disease physician in New York City, stays behind to do his job.

Salama recounts the moment when the family realized how deeply the virus could affect them, and highlights the importance of everyone doing their part to protect not only  themselves, but also the healthcare workers who risk everything to keep others safe.

Read the full story at Scientific American.