Medical messiah

Rajib Roy waxes eloquent on Bharat Sevashram Sangh’s medical unit

 ~High school student Vivek Sangma suffered stiffness in his left hand following a fracture. He had no elbow range and was provided wax-bath to recover.

~Mebarisuk Jana, 17, suffered scoliosis (bending of the backbone due to bad posture) for studying on the bed. Advised surgery by doctors, she got cured with physiotherapy.

~Soldier Silwant Thakur, 46, had cervical spondylitis with severe pain on both hands and shoulders. Shortwave traction did away with his pain in 15 days.

~Tejaswini Saikia had cerebral palsy on her right hand and leg. Doctors associated with Bharat Sevashram Sangh (BSS) trained her mother and governess in specific exercises to help her walk and overcome her disability significantly.

 THESE ARE some of the numerous cases the medical unit of BSS treated successfully from its ashram in Shillong’s Jail Road area. Among the cured were two ministers who were recommended physiotherapy by city-based hospitals.

     The medical unit, inaugurated by Governor RS Mooshahary in May 2010, has since been helping those who cannot afford medical treatment. It is equipped with X-ray machines, ECG and other gadgets besides homeopath, allopath and ayurveda practicing doctors. It provides free medicines to patients against a registration fee of Rs10 and treats almost all ailments.

     The physiotherapy department charges very nominal rates ranging from Rs15-25 whereas ECG is done for Rs25 only. “For X-ray, we charge only for the films as they are costly and cannot be reused,” said BSS secretary Swami Damodarananda Maharaj. Doctors from NEIGRIHMS have appreciated the well-equipped department. Many patients come here on their recommendations.

     The physiotherapy department has equipment such as traction machine, finger exercise equipment (for finger and wrist), ankle inter-ferential therapy, transcutaneous electrical neuro-muscular stimulator, shortwave diathermy, quadriceps table (for knee), nautical wheel (for frozen shoulder), muscle stimulator, wax-bath, moist hot therapy and ultrasound therapy. “We mainly treat patients with waist pain, low backache, shoulder pain, spondylitis and OA knee,” said physiotherapist Dipti Paul.

     Medicines for the medical unit are usually donated by medical representatives, doctors who gets such samples and by National Rural Health Mission. The unit conducts annual health camps in identified villages in the state. More than 25 such camps have been conducted in villages like Shella, Kalatek, Balat, Dangar Dambah, Mawsaliah, Jamadun, Umbir, Pendem Umsawrang, Nartiang, Dobakhal, Umlew Nayapara, Dholaigaon, Pisakuna, Kandapur, Upper Rajapara among others in Khasi and Jaintia Hills district of the state reaching the afflicted right at their doorsteps.

     One of the major health camps that the medical unit undertakes every year is before the onset of the monsoon season. “We analyze the number of people in each family at a chosen village and provide mosquito nets, blankets and other clothing items with medical checkups so that pregnant women and those who have given birth to a child are safe,” said Damodarananda.

     In one such village, Kalatek, the BSS medical unit after analyzing the economic condition of the people organized major medical relief work. Apart from heath camps cattle and fowls were distributed among the villagers along with ration and housing sheds. Similar help was provided for the poor twice in Shillong. During this year’s Maghi Purnima, BSS funded the tuition fees of hundreds of needy students from city-based schools like Umpling Vidyapith, Shillong Secondary School, Jail Road Boys’ HS School and PN Chaudhuri HS School. Meritorious engineering and senior secondary students who are undergoing higher studies amidst severe hardship were provided with financial assistance. “It will be our endeavor to try and see that these brilliant school students reach and pass their degree level examination,” said Damodarananda.

     With two ambulances – one running as a medical mobile van for providing treatment, relief materials, conducts village health camps, portable X-ray machines etc. with doctors as available at the place of operation, the other van is a dedicated ambulance to carry patients from all over the city to hospitals. “We feel proud that despite having 108 services here we are not sitting idle as we are continuously on the run. There is demand for more medical vehicles and the present medical services that we are rendering, the infrastructures that we have in our Ashram and monetary support is not enough to meet everyone’s requirement, which is also preventing us from stepping ahead. We do get generous donation from people who avail our ambulance service,” said the secretary. The medical unit is dependent on the fund generated from the ashram’s guesthouse with few rooms apart from the unit’s nominal collections.

     But these hurdles have not prevented people largely from the city’s outskirts from visiting the unit. On an average around 50 such patients turn up to the unit daily that runs from 3pm to 8pm. “Earlier, a patient would come and see the doctor straightaway. But now we have to give appointments due to heavy rush,” said the secretary. The BSS medical unit is run by people from economically weaker section of the society giving them a means of livelihood. The BSS pays them nominally and also takes care of their children, wards, family members and relatives with education expenses and medical assistance at this unit.

     The medical unit plans to launch the pathology department in the near future and is eyeing donors who can provide it with the machine to operate the centre. “We cannot afford such a machine which would cost around Rs15lakh. If donors help us, patients can avail a blood sugar test for Rs15 whereas a TCDC test can be done at Rs25,” asserted Damodarananda.

     F Rani Deb, 60, could not walk due to imbalance and severe pain in her legs. “I have overcome most of my problems undergoing exercises in the machines with professional guidance from the efficient doctors here. My kneecap is strong and I have regained my balance,” she said. Banker Sushanto Deb, an avid tabla player, is almost recovered from his 40-year-old ring finger stiffness after undergoing treatment here for the last 11 months having learnt about this place. “I have consulted neurosurgeons, taken homeopathy, Bhutanese medicines and even referred best doctors in Kolkata but could not get any result for my finger. But after undergoing treatment within the first three months, I could realize the change and now I am 90% okay,” he said.