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Nov
27
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6:30 pm Annual day 2017 @ Lady Willingdon Hospital
Annual day 2017 @ Lady Willingdon Hospital
Nov 27 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Winter is here, with its woollens and the year is drawing to a close. We hope to have the annual day of the hospital on 27th November 2017. Our Bishop, Rt. Rev Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy[...]

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Return from Kaaza 2017

Joule! The cheery greeting rang out as our cavalcade swept into Kaaza after an arduous twelve-hour bone-rattling journey over rocks that serve as a road. We were twenty-six people in three vehicles with one pickup truck jammed with all our equipment and supplies. We had left late from Manali because the “Raid Himalaya” road race was scheduled for the same day and delayed our departure. A rock falling on one of our vehicles provided some excitement as we extricated the vehicle, thankfully still roadworthy, and continued on our journey, to arrive in Kaaza by nightfall. Dr. Ganesan, a senior radiologist, and Dr. Pankaj Mallik, anesthetist, were the most senior in the group. Dr. Sathyavani, an obstetrician from Bangalore Baptist hospital, together with her surgeon husband Dr. Narayanswamy were the youngest consultants. Dr. Satish Thomas, a veteran of our camps, was the ophthalmologist from Believers hospital, ably assisted by Dr. Naveen from CMC Ludhiana, also no stranger to our camps. Mr. Rajinder, the eye technician from CMC Ludhiana teamed up with Mr. Shivdayal, our eye technician. The entire team of surgeons, nursing staff, operating room staff, anesthetic technician, lab technician, pharmacist, drivers, helpers, and a cook was quite a posse, headed by our dynamic leader Dr. Bishan Shasni, who actually works out the logistics of all our camps every year. Without him, I do not know if we could successfully complete any camp.

This year was different. In previous years, the camps had always been funded under the NRHM or the national rural health mission. This year, the government was late in opening the expression of interest. This invitation provides a pathway for organizations to apply for funding for the conduct of these surgical camps and expenses are reimbursed at government rates. The only certainty was that winter was fast approaching together with the reality of the high mountain passes closing for the year, cutting off these people from access to health care and surgery for the year. Every year we have been providing elective surgical services to the population of twelve thousand people living at this high altitude. For many who could not afford to leave the valley, we were the only recourse, and this year we did not have funds for it. So we prayed, and we felt that we should go ahead with whatever money we had with us to continue this service. So this year, this camp was conducted with our own money. The costs of arranging such a camp are not small, given that all expenses have to be met, and the patients are treated free.

Since it was too late to set up the operating room, the vehicles were unloaded and the team retired tired. The next day the morning was spent in setting up the operating theatre. The outpatient clinics started after a brief meeting with the public explaining why we were doing this and sharing our motivating factors with them. Dr. Bishan shared our commitment with them and explained our endeavor over the past years. The outpatient clinic was packed, with long lines of patients waiting to be seen by the general surgeons, gynecologist, and the eye doctors. The ultrasound machine was most in demand. Patients arrived, wanting an ultrasound for their headaches and backaches. The perception was that this little box would uncover any hidden disease by one wave of the magic probe. We had trouble with the ultrasound machine, but the ever-resourceful Dr. Bishan managed to solve the issue. Dr. Sathyavani was impressed with the antenatal care received by the ladies with the existing facilities, though for most of the pregnant women, the single ultrasound examination we conducted for them would be the only one done. 

That very day we were required to perform an emergency surgery on a patient in acute distress. Dr. Narayanswamy handled the situation immediately and the patient was relieved of his pain. One wonders what the patient would have done if we had not been there. He would not have been able to make it nine hours to the next surgical facility (ours) in Manali. One consequently wonders how people manage all year round. Though the kaaza civil hospital where we had set up base had enough facility for safe surgery under local or regional anesthesia, there is no surgery being done here until we arrive every year.

Over the next four days, we saw one thousand two hundred patients, performed 23 major surgeries and 24 minor surgeries, 25 eye surgeries (mainly cataract surgery), and conducted over four hundred and sixty ultrasound examinations. Every department worked smoothly, the members functioning together ceaselessly to provide a high standard of surgical and medical care. This being the fourth year of our camps, we testify to the faithfulness of God in providing care and healing to every one operated upon without a single complication.

Because Dr. Swamy and the surgical resident Dr. Shreya were able to finish all the minor surgeries in the morning, our operating lists finished every day by dinnertime, which was different from previous years, when the lists used to finish at two am, since we started late. Surgery for gallstones was by far the most common surgery. There was a patient in sepsis with a burst appendix and a little boy with abdominal tuberculosis. For both these patients, our intervention meant life saved. Most surgeries were conducted under spinal anesthesia. We had brought in every piece of equipment and medicine, down to the sticking plaster and bandages.

It was cold in Kaaza. We were at the very cusp of winter, and to emphasize this, there was fresh snowfall one night that dropped the temperature and sprinkled snow on the high pass. For some in our team, this was a new experience. The final days had some highlights in being able to visit the highest post office in the world (Komik village), where every team member posted a postcard to their homes. We were also very grateful for local co-operation and hospitality as we were hosted for a meal on two occasions. Our cook and helper had kept us very well fed and though a few of us had headaches due to the altitude, none of us fell ill.

It was with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude that the entire team departed from Kaaza on the 16th morning, satisfied that we were able to do this yet again, this year. We bid a fond “joule” to the wide open spaces and stark scenery, the cheery smiles of the amazing people living in this region, imprinted not just in our cameras, but in our hearts. 

 

 

 

Surgical camp to Kaaza

The team is assembling, the staff is busy packing all that is needed for full-scale surgery. We hope to leave on Sunday with our posse for Kaaza. This year the government has not opened the expression of interest as yet. That is very tardy and late in the year for the people of this region, because in a few weeks, the pass will close, isolating them. What that means is that we are doing this on our own now, not funded by the NRHM at all. We decided we could not leave the people without help and we will find other sources of funding or use our own to fulfill this mission. 

So our team hopes to depart Sunday morning, the 8th of October and return on 16th of October. 

Kaaza, here we come!

Tribute to a doctor

Even now as the ENT camp is in full swing in Manali, with hordes of patients waiting to be seen and operated in Lady Willingdon Hospital Manali, we pay tribute to Dr. George Ani, the surgeon who pioneered this and made it possible. 

Dr. George finished his MBBS from Christian Medical College Ludhiana, and then specialised in ENT from Christian Medical College Vellore. He stayed on at Vellore to be come faculty and specialised in voice and hearing disorders. 

His heart always went out to those who did not have. In an attempt to make a difference, he spent his own leave travelling to far flung and remote areas of India to provide ENT services, operate on people and help needy locations. 

He started providing this service in Manali biannually since 2009. Every year, he used to come twice and see about 500 patients and operate through the night to give those who were deaf, the miracle of hearing again. For the people in this region, this is nothing short of a miracle, since the only other option for them is to travel to Chandigarh for similar facilities, at an exorbitant and often unaffordable cost. He also used to bring surgeons from other parts of India to help him here. 

In late February 2016, while cycling from Vellore to Bangalore, he was hit by a speeding vehicle and died in a tragic accident. He leaves a huge lacuna, not only in his family and his institution, but in all our hearts,  here and in various hospitals scattered all over India, who remember the kindly doctor and his ministrations. 

Here he is seen with his wife, Dr. Annie. 

We know you are with Jesus, George but  we miss you! 

 

When air becomes breath

 

Oxygen is essential for all hospitals. Ours is no different. The logistics of procuring oxgygen in Manali are overwhelming, and procuring it regularly is a formidable challenge. Our hospital has fifty five beds, of which four are intensive care beds with three ventilators. Ventilators are a sluice gate for oxygen, rapidly exhausting cylinders. The nearest filling station for oxygen is in Mandi, three hours away by road. In early 2004 we required  two cylinders a day. We are presently using twenty cylinders every three days. The logistics of transporting empty cylinders down by truck, filling  them and having them on hand for all emergencies is an onerous task. At first we used to send our cylinders inside a Sumo with the back seats removed to make space. That was not safe, since the driver is in the same cab with the jostling cylinders. So we bought a pick up truck. The truck marked “medical oxygen” used to make its pilgrimage every third day down the mountain roads to the filling station. This was not without danger. Once the truck had a narrow escape, collided en route with another vehicle and spewed the oxygen cylinders all over the mountainside. Thankfully the cylinders were empty and no one was injured.

One of our employees, Mr. Ramdev,  who had come to our hospital as a destitute patient over fifteen years ago has been the chief co ordinator of this exercise. Originally from Nepal, without any known support or family, he wandered into our hospital as a patient. While admitted, he was instrumental in catching a thief and was thereby inducted into the staff as a watchman. The income he earned did not slake his search for a reason to exist, and he turned to alcohol, which became a trap. He wandered down the road to complete inebriation and faced the day when we had to confront him with termination of service. Desperate, and with no human help at hand or family to turn to, he asked us for help. We arranged to send him to a Christian rehabilitation centre in Lucknow for six months.

He returned a changed man. Returning to his job, he assumed complete responsibility for the supply of oxygen, keeping tabs on the number of cylinders that were available and ensuring that we always had filled cylinders at hand. We have never run out of oxygen, thanks to his faithfulness. He established contact with one of his close relatives in Nepal, and visited them immediately after the earthquake there. He has become a support to his close ones in Nepal by taking them blankets and money. He is now always nattily turned out, and has never looked at alcohol again. He is acutely aware of the transformation God has brought about in his life, not only by saving him from alcohol, but being instrumental in providing help to his family.

Installing an oxygen plant in Manali has been a year long project. This last week, the plant is finally up and running. The plant produces oxygen by extracting all other components from air. The pick up truck does not have to run that mountain road much anymore, and will only need to go  occasionally for back up cylinders. Later, we can install our own filling station. This plant is now hissing and humming happily in campus. It sends messages of its well-being periodically to the phones of  concerned personnel informing them of any errors or blips in its function. Prominent among the list of those who get messages is – you guessed it,   Ramdev, our living testimony that air does become breath.

We obtained permission from Mr. Ramdev to share his story on the website to serve as a source of encouragement to others.

Treadmill stress testing starts in LWH Manali

Saju was a thirty seven year old patient who came to us with crushing chest pain which started when he was shovelling snow. In hospital he was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Quick and timely thrombolysis (to dissolve the clot in his heart) saved his life. He was discharged safely in three days time and advised further follow up with a cardiologist in Chandigarh.

The health of the inhabitants of this valley has changed over the years. Heart disease was unheard of earlier. Now we are seeing more diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Whether this is due to less physical activity or a change in the diet of the people is unclear. It a pattern noticed all over India. 

In LWH Manali we are able to thrombolyse and take care of the acutely ill cardiac patient. However till now we did not have stress testing or the ability to uncover latent or hidden ischaemia. Failure to do so could result in a calamitous heart attack for those predisposed to cardiac illness. We initiated the treadmill test here in LWH manali yesterday (12th May 2017).

Dr. Chuck Thompson is a cardiologist from the United States who returns every year to help Dr. Anna Alexander and conduct a cardiac camp here for the many patients seen all year round and for new patients who need help. This has been a boon for so many patients who have received timely and appropriate advice and have been guided to take steps to obtain relevant treatment. Dr. Chuck and Dr. Anna started treadmill testing here since we have procured a very good machine which will now enable them to guide patients in time and allow them to rest assured that they are safe with their current medication or be advised to go to a higher centre for further investigations. This will be a boon for Manali and for the people here. 

The treadmill test is a moving platform that makes the patient walk, at first slowly then at increasing speeds and inclination. All the while the patients are being monitored and their ECG is continuously recorded. This uncovers any potential area of ischaemia or blockage where the blood supply to the heart is not what it should be, and shows up on the changes in the ECG which are detected and recorded. This permits the doctors to know if these patients need further tests or not. If they pass the treadmill test, it is unlikely that the patients will have any heart attacks in the near future. 

We are grateful to Drs. Chris and Taehee Shin who had approached  Interserve through whom this machine has been  donated  for the people of Manali. 

Encounter with God

Dr. Sam Thomas and Ms. Sashi Thomas took a three day seminar on “Encounter with God” for the school and hospital staff. This is the first of three sessions over the year. We thank you both!

Updates 2017

It has been a while since we were active on the internet. In cold climates, bears regularly hibernate to tide over the winter, and the website thought it was a bear. 

But with the thaw of spring, we stretch our limbs and yawn, and look around to a new year. The snows have gone, and a sense of spring is in the air. This sense has not touched the trees as yet, which are as skeletal as ever but hope of budding and greening trills with the warbles of the ashy drongo which has come to Manali. 

We still have pending projects from last year. One operating theatre has been completed and we have started surgery in it. It is SUCH a wonderful thing to have climate controlled conditions. Our patients won’t become hypothermic anymore and surgeons too are most grateful for this change. Laminar flow establishes 25 air changes a minute through the theatre via hepa filters situated above the operative field. A fluid warmer provides warmed iv fluids so we don’t need to give cold saline infusions any more! Now we need to start work on the other ot to bring that also unto this standard, and I suspect this process will take two more months at the least. 

Our oxygen plant is still incomplete but we have hope of getting it done now that snow has left the ground permitting workers to complete it. 

There are a lot of projects and plans on the anvil for this year. 

Watch this space for updates !

Thank you for your support and interest. 

We are very thankful to God for another year to look forward to and work here in Manali. 

Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year

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Christmas is in the air. A bite of cold wind, portent of a long awaited winter. The trees have shed their leaves and seem ready, as every one is, for the first snow. It is difficult to believe that one year has sped by.

This year has seen the hospital continue to grow. New team members, Dr. Dennis Martin, Orthopedic Surgeon, and his wife Ms. Sharel, who finished her M.Ph. both from Christian Medical College Vellore, joined us earlier in the year. Dr. Josy Thomas, General Surgeon and his wife Dr. Amy and little boy Mark, also from Vellore, joined us mid year. Dr. Ranjit Christopher, our previous administrator and Ms. Pushpa, Social worker, moved to Thane after a decade with us. Dr. Christopher handed over to two administrators Ms. Christina Dhas Sankhro and Mr. Thomas Mathai. Our junior doctors from last year left to pursue post- graduation. Drs. Shefali William, Dr. Shireen Chacko and Dr. Neerav Aruldas, have since joined to take their place. Dr. Ajit Albert continues with us, having been with us for two years. Dr. Chris Shin (Medicine) and Dr. Taehee Shin (Dental) continue to partner with us from Interserve. Dr. Riya has been our dentist now for the fourth consecutive year. Ms. Anuradha Garg has established a medical records section, and Ashish Giri has joined as an Occupational therapist both trained from Vellore,. Ms. Usha joined us as social worker and Ms. Pinki as Office assistant. Professionally, we have continued to move toward our goals of providing an appropriate standard of care at an affordable cost in the spirit of Jesus. The provision of orthopedic surgery has been a great asset to the people. With advancement come advancing needs for equipment, and we testify to God’s faithfulness in providing all our needs. Besides new lab equipment, operating lights and a new ventilator kindly provided by Interserve, we are in the process of introducing laminar flow in our operating rooms, and installing an oxygen plant on campus. A wonderful Christmas gift will be a new ambulance to replace

our older one, which has done so many miles the odometer is tired of recording them.

Our forays into the community under Dr. Bishan Shasni have been very well received and people from far-flung areas of Lahaul Spiti and Pangi have started travelling all the way to reach our hospital as a result of the surgical and medical camps we conducted in those areas, reaching around 2600 people, for the third consecutive year. They have now come to trust us and look forward to these camps, compared to three years ago when we first encountered fear and suspicion.

Being the salt and light is not difficult when we are keenly aware that all that we are and do is a direct consequence of obedience to our Heavenly Father. It removes the compulsion to seek to “perform” or “accomplish” and replaces it with a need to “obey” and “be”. We would like this knowledge to permeate all that we do and plan for the next year. We have seen the growth of the institution, of people, the church, and of each other over the years and are keenly aware that all of us are still a “work in progress”. To continue to be changed into His image is a wonderful aspiration for the New Year.

We have so many encouraging stories of families and individuals whose lives have been touched. Stories of healing, of restoration, and of renewal. These stories permit us to press on and persevere in what we clearly have come to recognize, as the work of God in Manali.

From all of us in Manali, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Blessed New Year.

Annual day 2016

The Annual day was a resounding success in all respects. Great fun, great music, dancing, skits, and bonhomie. The food was astounding, and the post dinner dancing addictive. All the staff came together to put up a fantastic program in record time. The theme was love, with exhortation to above all love each other deeply…. taken from 1 Peter 4:8

All the presentations underscored this theme, and came together to produce a seamless two hours of fun and entertainment.

We are grateful to the Daystar school staff and the DUF home also who helped us with this program.

A wonderful time was had by all.

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