Rishikesh | Published on: July 11, 2011

A report from Pallium India’s Senior Administrator, Dr. C Mohanan:

Sicily Sebastian (r)

On the Shores of Ganga Prem

Pallium India staff may remember Sicily Sebastian who came for Cerificate Course in Palliative Nursing from Ganga Prem Hospice (GPH) a year ago.

It was during a private visit to Rishikesh recently that I met her with her husband Sebastian who workwise is Pallium India’s Chandran in GPH. When Sicily was asked to go for the training, it seems, she like many others  protested – “I know all nursing; why  another training now?” And now she says “I knew nothing; given a chance, I will go again”

The idea of this hospice was conceived and implemented by Dr Ajay Dewan of the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, New Delhi, who is also the Medical Director of the GPH. The GPH is now working in old partly defunct hospital in Rishikesh, the holy town of so many ashrams and temples. An English lady, now an Indian citizen based in Uttar Kashi, popularly known as ‘Nani Ma’ is running the day to day operations. Near Rishikesh, they have already bought a  piece of land and plan to have a building of their own in the near future.

Dr C Mohanan in Rishikesh

Though christened a hospice, only home visits and monthly cancer camps are taking place now. The main block for full fledged activities is the difficulty to get a full time doctor. But the encouraging thing is that home visits have increased from just one patient to 29 in one year. Each patient is seen up to twice a week. Conceding to their request, I joined the team and visited a few patients in Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun and attended their camps as well. Patients and relatives by and large are satisfied. A medical team visiting and offering consolation and distributing free medicines is a new experience for them.

A monthly camp is conducted at GPH in Rishikesh for cancer detection and for treatment guidance. 60 to 90 patients attend these camps. In a special camp in Dehradun on 24th June Oncology surgeons from Apollo Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute examined the patients  and prescribed treatment. About 70 patients attended the camp. The need for a palliative care physician was felt in the camps.

I had discussions with a few members of the GPH team about their immediate problems and future course of action. Mr Anil Gupta, a soft spoken humble computer engineer is the manager who coordinates activities in Rishikesh. Ms Pooja based in Delhi is a good PRO who gets a lot of free medicines and accessories for the home visit team. She is also in charge of their e-news letter.

Dr C Mohanan and Sicily in Rishikesh

Despite their limitations , they are doing some excellent work in this field. However they are yet to venture into areas like awareness programs, volunteers training,  link centres, educational support for children, rehabilitation programs etc. Though confined to cancer patients at present, they may have to enlarge the field to include other patients suffering from incurable and debilitating diseases.

GPH is the first palliative care venture in Uttarakhand state. As such they have to prepare themselves to guide future palliative care units in the state. I understand they are capable of mobilising enough funds and personnel and with proper planning and guidance they can surely become the flagship of all palliative care services in the state.

I wish them well,
Dr. C Mohanan
Senior Administrator, Pallium India

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