UAE-based businessman, wife convert tourist home in Kerala into care centre for Covid patients

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on July 1, 2021
Supplied photo

The initiative is aimed for those who cannot find a bed space in the government-run hospitals

A UAE-based expatriate businessman and his wife have donated their Kerala tourist home business into a care centre for Covid-19 patients.

Located near the Government Medical College Hospital at Vandanam in Alappuzha, R Harikumar, the owner of the Sharjah-based Elite Group of Companies, and his wife Kala Harikumar took the decision to donate their tourist home towards the care and welfare of Covid-19 patients who cannot find a bed space in the government-run hospitals.

Kala Tourist Home was opened for Covid-19 patients on Wednesday (June 30).

Harikumar and Kala had opened the centre in 1998.

The facility has been re-purposed to serve over 50 Covid-19 patients.

However, Harikumar told Khaleej Times that the facility could accommodate more patients if the need arises.

“More than tourists, many of the guests in the tourist home were visitors of the medical college. Many of our guests were patients who required long-term stays. For example, cancer patients or people who suffered from ailments that needed prolonged treatment,” he said.

However, Kala and Harikumar realised that many people in their native town were struggling due to an acute shortage of hospital beds.

“We saw that people were having to ferry motorbikes on motorbikes to nearby hospitals, which was heartbreaking for us,” he said.

The top floor of the three-storey building has been repurposed for this initiative, said Harikumar.

“The space that has been converted is a recreational hall. A special entrance to the Covid-19 ward has been created. We’re told by doctors at the medical college that this is more convenient for the medical staff as it’d be more challenging for them to walk in and out of the tourists’ rooms,” he added.

All other business activities in the tourist home have been stopped for now.

The hotel has a direct link to the hospital. “We’ll be providing food for all the patients. However, the rest of our staff have been allowed to either take some time off from work or move to our other business establishments in the area. Their salaries will be paid in full either way,” he said.

“Most of the staff at Kala Tourist Home have been working with us for years. They’re understanding and cooperative of the situation,” he added.

However, Harikumar is hopeful that the need for the tourist home as a care centre will not be needed in the coming weeks.

“The Covid-19 situation in Kerala is fast improving. We’re praying that our services will not be needed soon,” he said.

Harikumar has played an active role in assisting distressed persons amid the pandemic.

In June last year, he chartered a flight carrying 170 distressed passengers to Kerala. Apart from his 120 employees, the flight carried 50 people who were waiting outside the Sharjah Airport without sufficient money to buy tickets to head back home.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.

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