As a continuation of Pallium India‘s Pallcare Project in Lucknow, Dr Mhoira Leng, the director of the international organization called Cairdeas International has been supporting us by mentoring in Mizoram and Lucknow.
Dr Leng shares her new and exciting experiences in Mizoram:
This was my third visit to Mizoram building on the project supported by Pallium India that led to the first Palliative Care Service in the state in Government Civil Hospital in the capital Aizawl. I was joined by Dr Grahame and Cheryl Tosh from the UK and the Rev Hamilton who was until recently, Chaplain and Education Officer at CMC Vellore Palliative Care Department.
As ever, this remote part of India presents many travel and communication challenges. Monsoon is not the easiest time to visit, with grounded flights in one of India’s smallest state capital airports, which nestles in the midst of jungle-covered mountains and then the landslides and mud baths on the roads.
Last year’s visit focused around the Civil Hospital and the delivery of a 5 day training, using the Palliative Care Toolkit. We also spent a week meeting and making contacts in government, other hospitals, community leaders, the Regional Theological College, and those involved in health and social care training. Following on from these contacts, there were 2 hospitals that seemed to have a real vision for palliative care developments and asked that any future visits include them.
So we arrived for a short 1 week visit with the aim of offering mentorship and support to Durtlang and Serkawn Hospitals. Durtlang Presbyterian Hospital is a 300 bed general hospital in Aizawl that has extensive community outreach and also a ward for those affected by substance misuse and HIV/AIDS. The Medical Director, Dr Lalremthanga was very welcoming, arranging for us to address a group of his staff and spend time with Dr Sanga who leads the 2 mentioned services.
Grace Home is about to be rebuilt and provides treatment support for patients with HIV/AIDS and also palliative care, especially for those destitute or without community support. The new unit will be ready next year and has room for running education programmes. They are keen to explore how to fully integrate palliative care into their programmes and Dr Sanga hopes to undertake further training, to be able to give leadership.
There are also 3 nurses who completed the Toolkit course last year. We also followed up a lecture given at the Regional Theological College with a seminar led by Rev Hamilton on pastoral care at the end of life. Given the prominent role church leaders have in all aspects of community life, this was a significant development.
5 to 7 hours away, by a winding mountainous road, in the south of the state, is the second city of Lunglei. It is here that Serkawn Baptist Hospital runs its inpatient service (100 beds) and also an extensive community outreach and second clinical base in Lawngtlai. An impressive and gentle leader, Dr Lalramzauva, completed the Toolkit training last year along with the senior nurse tutor from the nursing college. He committed at that time to integrating palliative care in Serkawn and we wanted to visit to offer support and explore how they were progressing. The palliative care team consists of 2 nurses, a social worker and medical leadership and is beginning by offering sensitisation and clinical review in the hospital itself.
We discussed 2 recent challenging cases and met both patients and their families. They have registered to obtain oral morphine tablets and are optimistic about this being successful.
We also discussed integrating palliative care into their community health training programmes. It is early days for this service and they will need to have some of the clinical staff access some hands-on training and we also discussed options for this.
As ever, there were many other contacts we could not follow up in the time allowed but it aptly demonstrates the benefits of a more long term approach to mentoring and training support.
– Dr Mhoira Leng, July 2010.
Don’t forget to visit Mhoira’s blog for more trip reports from around the World, accompanied by wonderful photographs!: mhoiraleng.blogspot.com
(Pallium India is mentioned a number of times…)