Sunday, 6 March 2016

Living out "Fellowship" - the HBM team visit to Lakhnadon Christian Hospital

The Emmanuel Hospital Association - which Sheba and I are rejoining after a 13 year stint in Thane-town - has a motto:

"Fellowship for Transformation through Caring"

We want to be agents of change by being a community who live out our lives through care for others... and for each other.  We know that all of this is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ - and want to make Him known in word and deed.  But the key is that change has to start with us.  And that too not each one alone in their corner, but together.

Enter the idea - and the practice - of fellowship.

A few months ago our hospital - the HBM hospital here in Lalitpur - hosted the regional board meetings.  At this time our Hospital Director Biju Mathew and Dr. Cherring from Lakhnadon Christian Hospital got into a conversation.  "Why not live out our 'fellowship' by visiting each other - as hospitals - and seeing how we can encourage and improve on each other?"

And so last month we did that.  A team of four from the HBM Hospital here in Lalitpur drove down the 320 kms to Lakhnadon which is in the Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh.  I had been stranded in Thane thanks to the Jat agitation - and so joined the team on their second day after catching a train up to Jabalpur and spending a day with our CH team who was also doing an exposure visit in the area.

Lakhnadon Christian Hospital faces many challenges.  Many.

  • A large campus with crumbling infrastructure.
  • A reduced patient load as key medical leaders have come and gone 
  • Pressures to comply with regulations such as the clinical establishment act which favour large hospitals working in urban areas
  • Staff who are working hard - but then sometimes with low patient loads seem to be hardly working
  • Staff turn-over given the lack of educational facilities for children in such a remote place
  • and on an on.

However, through all of this, we have an amazing set of folks who have stuck on through thick and thin.

The leader of the hospital is our very dear friend Dr. Chering Tenzing - and she and the management team have been strengthened by Dr. Divya who is a community medicine specialist and who joined a few months ago.

Dr. Chering did her Medicine studies out of the Christian Fellowship Hospital in Oddanchataram in Tamil Nadu when Sheba was there and their friendship has stood the test of time.  It has been our privilege to go and visit her in her various postings over these past 15 years as a missionary doctor.  The first few visits were back to our 'old hospital' at the Nav Jeevan Hospital in Jharkhand, then on to the Herbertpur Christian Hospital in Uttarkhand and finally at the Lakhnadon Christian Hospital in MP.

The campus of the Lakhnadon Christian Hospital maintains its quirky charm.  As you come in the gates the first sight you see is the entrance to the out-patient department:

Behind the main hospital buildings stretches the large campus - which is generously endowed with staff quarters and boasts a lovely field where future cricketers from staff and their families practice in the early evenings:

After so many years in the congestion of Mumbai - to see open spaces is a breath of fresh air... literally.   Seoni district may have many draw-backs, but outdoor air pollution is not one of them.

So what did the team from HBM hospital do to live out our fellowship with the Lakhandon Christian Hospital team?

Well, we listened, and talked, and listened some more, and prayed and listened and talked.

Our colleagues are working hard.  And need to be appreciated.  Which is one of the small things that we were able to do with them.

Here Biju is talking with an off duty nurse who used to be with us a the HBM hospital in Lalitpur.

We also fanned out and spent time with individual units.  Biju sat with the administrator and worked through some of the systems and looked at pricing issues.   Leela was with the fledgling palliative care team.  Pastor Emmanuel shared in the morning devotions and spent time with the support staff - listening to them and encouraging them.  Sharon met with the HR manager and held a youth meeting for young staff.  I was with the community health folks and in and out of other groups too.

One evening we brought all the staff together for a get-together.  We split up into four groups and each group discuss a different key area: what they are thankful to the Lord for, which areas of their work they see the Kingdom being established most, what the challenges facing the hospital are, and finally what their dreams for the hospital are.

The discussions were lively and had to be cut short so that we could all hear the key findings with the larger group.  And then we used these findings to fuel our prayers.

Here one of the teams shares their 'dreams' for the hospital.

For me the highlight  was a day-long visit to a remote village where the LCH conducted a medical clinic together with a couple who have been serving the people of that community.

The drive took us into the hinterland - including a drive down and up one of the famous ravines that the area is known for.

When we first arrived at our site, we found it a bare room - a community hall on the road side which had been built a year before.

Our local facilitator was there - as were a few volunteers - but no one else.  But our hosts assured us that people would come.

And they did.

Sister Leela first give a general talk about cancer and palliative care, and then the clinic commenced with the facilitator doing the registration - he knew most of the folks by name, they then had their BP checked and then met Dr. Divya for a consultation.  A few were examined on a cot behind a curtain of blankets that had been strung up to provide some privacy.

After the consulation, those who needed medication took their prescription and bought their meds from the team.  That's right, they bought the meds.  So many 'chartiable' programmes give medicines away - and then wonder why people don't use them well.  The folks here get a consultations free, but buy the needed meds because the know the value of the medical advice they are getting.  And the clinic is backed up by community level work done by the local facilitators.

Sister Leela Pradhan is a living legend.  She is a cancer survivor herself and was really not feeling too well on this trip - but is committed to setting up palliative care units in other places too.  She took two more sessions on basic cancer issues.  One was for women which she did indoors.  And then a group discussion with a group of local men outside one of the local homes.

Like in our part of Bundelkhand, the local homes are often brightly coloured, with startling blues (most popular colour) and odd pink or yellow showing up.   A number of the houses in the Seoni district had a duo-tone strip with the primary colour on top and a white band below.  How do these designs originate and spread?

On the drive back we stopped to inquire about a large cork-screw like apparatus we saw outside one home on the drive in.  Turns out it is a gravity fed grain and chaff separator!

The lady of the home, who was separating her channa harvest by hand, said that it was used for wheat.  

Too soon we were in our last session with the Lakhnadon Christian Hospital leadership team.

It was good to reflect back on the three days which we had spent with them.

We could see that they really appreciated the small inputs that we were able to give them.  And we came away enriched by seeing what God is doing in their lives - and what we can do further over here!

Long live the fellowship!


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  5. This team has done some of the amazing jobs by visiting this hospital. They just came to know how the fellowship is necessary for the medical students. the sucess is entirley depends on people like you.

  6. O wao good to read this post.Your relation is too old with this hospital.I would like to click to read more later after finishing my some thesis work.Thanks.