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INDIA, Gohri Maphi, February 28th, 2017
Inauguration of GPH Inpatient Facility

The east wing of the Ganga Pram Hospice inpatient facility was inaugurated by the GPH team and the main construction sponsors on the 28th February 2017.

After three years of construction work –diligently supervised by the architect, structural engineer, and several other experts (many of whom worked free-of-charge for the project,) the Ganga Prem Hospice inpatient facility was inaugurated in a small ceremony on the 28th of February, 2017. Situated at Village Gohri Maphi in the Raiwala area of Rishikesh, the building's completed East Wing has three floors and thirty-four rooms, and will be able to serve seventeen  terminally ill inpatients.







  The GPH team had only eight days to prepare for the inauguration event, as one of the financial sponsors unexpectedly requested that the building be opened on February 28th. Hospice staff, administration and volunteers all cleared their calendars to focus on the necessary arrangements. On 27th February, the day preceding the inauguration, preparations continued at the site well into the night.  
GPH nurses prepare auspicious rangolis
GPH nurses prepare auspicious rangolis
 

 

 

Ganga Prem Hospice volunteers in particular did a sterling job cleaning and decorating inside the building and around the site.

The opening ceremony was intimate and friendly with around eighty people – staff, volunteers, donors, supporters and friends – in attendance on a spring Tuesday forenoon. The ceremony began with a santoor and tabla classical music performance.


classical music performance
Classical music performance
GPH staff and supporters listen to the music (photo taken from inside the facility kitchen)
GPH staff and supporters listen to the music
(photo taken from inside the facility kitchen)

 

 


The welcome address was then given by the medical director of the hospice, Dr AK Dewan, and the vote of thanks by spiritual advisor, Nani Ma. Representatives of the corporate construction sponsors, BHEL and IFCI Social Foundation, inaugurated their respective floors of the building with inspirational speeches and ribbon cutting. BHEL and IFCI are two well-respected public sector companies in India. The general manager of IFCI, Delhi, Pawan Kumar, called upon his corporate associates to support activities like that of Ganga Prem Hospice. The BHEL general manager, Sudhir Kumar Aggarwal, spoke about the hospice’s mission to provide service to the dying and needy. He recalled the popular saying that those who live for themselves meet an end, while those who live for others are remembered for a long time. The chief guest of the ceremony, BHEL Haridwar Executive Director Prakash Chand, was self-effacing in his words when he said that BHEL considered itself fortunate for having been part of a project like Ganga Prem Hospice.


BHEL Prakash Chand inaugurates the first 2 floors
BHEL Prakash Chand inaugurates the first 2 floors
IFCI Pawan Kumar inaugurates the top floor
IFCI Pawan Kumar inaugurates the top floor

 

 


The gram pradhan (elected village head) of Gohri Maphi was also special invitee, representing and honoring the partnership with the local community. After the inauguration, all the guests were given a guided tour of the hospice building, followed by a catered lunch.


GPH is proud of its eco-friendly building
GPH is proud of its eco-friendly building

The building designed by India’s renowned architect, Professor Yatin Pandya, is an eco-friendly facility, with rain water harvesting, decentralized wastewater treatment system (DEWATS), solar water heating, and a construction design which maximizes natural light and air circulation. While some minor finishing work continues at the site, the hospice team hopes that the inpatient service will be able to begin in the coming months.

 

 

 


Ganga Prem Hospice would like to thank all the volunteers, donors, and supporters who so lovingly helped in the preparations and on the inauguration day. While one guest and donor made a generous financial contribution on that day, another donor supplied bottled drinking water for the ceremony. Thanks also to the many friends of GPH who sent messages of congratulations and good wishes from around the world.


 


INDIA, Rishikesh, February 26th, 2017
February Clinic

Exactly one hundred patients came to the Ganga Prem Hospice cancer clinic in Rishikesh on February 28th, 2017, and 61% of them were proven cancer cases.

The hospice team dove into the clinic work, even as the hospice building inauguration preparations were in the forefront of everyone’s mind. The two senior oncologists had a heavy work-load as they examined and advised sixty-four patients with cancer and suspected malignancies within the span of a few hours. The hospice medical director, Dr AK Dewan, left for the site immediately after wrapping up the clinic consultations.



Dr Dewan with a patient
Dr Dewan with a patient
Dr Sharma writes a report
 Dr Sharma writes a report

 

 


Three palliative care specialists at the clinic also had their hands full with eleven patients in the advanced stages of cancer who required extensive attention. In total there were nine doctors present at the clinic including an Ayurevedacharya, a visiting Homoepath, a gynaecologist and an onco-psychiatrist.


Dr Saxena advises a patient
Dr Saxena advises a patient
Nani Ma fills in a patient’s cover form
Nani Ma fills in a patient’s cover form

 

 


Buccal mucosa, tongue and breast were the most common cancers, with nine, seven and five cases respectively. The total number of different cancer types recorded at the clinic was twenty-six.

As always, a support team of staff and volunteers contributed significantly to the smooth functioning of the clinic by registering the patients, calling them in to the doctors’ offices, recording their prescription details, dispensing medicines, and serving refreshments.


 

 

INDIA, Dehradun, February 23rd, 2017
Uttarakhand Palliative Care Meeting

On Feb. 23rd four doctors from Ganga Prem Hospice were among the eighteen doctors from the state of Uttarkhand and beyond who gathered in Dehradun to discuss the development of a state “Palliative Care Policy.”

Supported by the central government, a few other states in India have adopted  such a policy in order to facilitate government support for expanding palliative care and hospice services. Such support manifests in the form of funding for specialized medical training, new in-patient care facilities, efficient access to controlled medications and so forth.

The doctors present at the meeting discussed the most pressing needs of palliative care in Uttarkhand state and their ideas to meet these needs. Another meeting is scheduled in April to follow up on the progress of the work. In the meantime the Uttarakhand State government has promised to open palliative care centres in the State where strong pain control medicine would be more easily available.


 


INDIA, Rishikesh, February 16th, 2017
Yoga Niketan Donates Ambulance to GPH 

An ambulance was donated to Ganga Prem Hospice by the Yoga Niketan Trust of Rishikesh, on the 16th of February, 2017.

Yoga Niketan is one of the oldest ashrams in Rishikesh and was founded by the famous yogi, Swami Yogeshwarananda. The Ganga Prem Hospice team reached the ashram at 9.30 am where they were offered a light breakfast before the simple donation ceremony began.



The ambulance keys being given to GPH
Patients and their relatives enjoying the party

The keys were handed over to Ganga Prem Hospice Trustee, Nani Ma by Mr. Kazu Keishin Kimura, head of the Japanese branch of Yoga Niketan after formalities had been completed with Yoga Niketan trustee, Mr. Sudhanshu Mundra . Nani Ma spoke a few words of gratitude in which she paid tribute to Swami Yogeshwarananda’s exceptional yogic skill and worldwide renown.

 

 

 


The gift of the ambulance is indeed a timely addition to the GPH fleet of vehicles, as the inpatient facility is to open soon, and an ambulance is much needed to transport bed ridden patients to and from the facility.

 


INDIA, Uttarakhand, January, February, 2017
Uttarakhand Needs Palliative Care  

Recently the GPH team has increased its efforts to ensure palliative care continues to develop in the state of Uttarakhand.

Recognizing that GPH is only able to provide care to patients in a relatively small area, there is an immense need to inspire others to take on the task of providing palliative care for those both at home and in the hospitals. This need has lead to several initiatives which include the formation of:

The Uttarakhand Palliative Care Network (UPCN):  A new network to link health care professionals who are currently providing palliative care or have a wish to develop services in the region, with other interested parties. Invitations to join the network have been accepted by those within Uttarakhand, those from other states in India and international hospice supporters.

An Uttarakhand State Palliative Care Policy: Initial talks with Government officials have led to the organization of a meeting on 23rd February with the aim of developing a policy.  Influential palliative care professionals from outside of Uttarakhand have also kindly accepted the invite to speak at this meeting.

An E Petition: This is being circulated to show public recognition of the importance of palliative care and will be sent to those government officials who are in the position to develop a state policy. Supporters from Uttarakhand as well as across India and overseas have signed to date.

https://www.change.org/p/uttarakhand-let-s-stop-suffering-at-the-end-of-life

GPH supporters will continue to be updated with progress in these developments.



 


INDIA, Rishikesh, January 29th, 2017
January Clinic 

The first charitable cancer clinic of 2017 fell on an unusually chilly winter day which saw everybody wrapped in woolens to ward off the cold. The GPH team had a busy time as all the beds in the waiting room were occupied with sick patients who needed warmth and rest.

The three palliative care doctors, and one onco-psychologist had a particularly demanding time attending to the terminally ill and sick, and discussing the home care patients' cases with the two oncologists. There were eight doctors present at the clinic supported by a team of nurses, staff and volunteers.



Dr Brenda discusses a patient’s case with Dr Dewan
Dr Brenda discusses a patient’s case with Dr Dewan
 

 

 


Of the seventy-five patients seen on January 29, thirty-six were cancer cases. Of these, 22% were tongue cancer cases alone. With another seven cases of buccal mucosa, oral cancers constituted 41% of the total number of malignancies seen.

Patients came to the clinic from the base town of Rishikesh, and from the neighbouring cities of Dehradun, Haridwar, Roorkee, and also from Sahranpur in western Uttar Pradesh.


The child patient being ‘weighed’ at her request!
The child patient being ‘weighed’ at her request!
 

 

 


A thirteen year old home care patient with brain cancer was brought to the clinic by the GPH team who are caring for her around the clock in a local hospital. Her bed was surrounded by loving staff and volunteers who showered her with affection. At her request she was taken on a wheelchair to see the nearby Ganga river. She enjoyed the journey through the local bazaar and arrived back after an hour – tired but elated by her adventure. 

After the clinic Dr Dewan walked to a nearby hospital where another GPH home care patient was staying. Twenty-four year old Anup has horrendous cancer wounds which are dressed daily by the GPH nurses. Dr Dewan advised the hospital doctors as to how Anup’s suprapubic catheter could be located and changed by the resident surgeon. Anup was thrilled by Dr Dewan’s visit as was the owner of the hospital.



 


INDIA, Gohri Maphi, January 24th, 2017
GPH Team Inspiration Meeting 

On the afternoon of January 24th Ganga Prem Hospice held its annual team inspiration meeting.

Fourteen members of the hospice staff and volunteers left Rishikesh around 1pm to attend the meeting at Nani Ma’s ashram in Gohri Maphi. The gathering commenced in the sunny,  flower-filled garden of the ashram. Nani Ma began by sharing her thoughts about the relationship of spirituality and patient care. She reminded the team how important it is to consider the spirit and  not only the body, and to consider the patient as a whole being . She concluded her remarks on this topic using the metaphor of a tree: the tree is the body/mind complex and the roots are the spirit. Without taking care of the roots, the tree will never bloom.



 

 


Once Nani Mai had finished speaking, the members of the team had the opportunity to question her about any concerns they might have relating to the spiritual component of care. Vijay Halder, who works as driver in Ganga Prem Hospice, shared what he experiences while he’s waiting for the staff during a home care visit. Sometimes the patient’s neighbors come to speak to him; sometimes they ask him about the patient’s condition or about GPH, other times they tell him anecdotes about the patient’s family. His descriptions reminded everyone how important it is to recognize every hospice team member as a precious source of information.

Next, the assembly broke into small groups, and everyone informally shared how they personally experience spirituality in hospice work. Each person came up with a word that best expresses the spiritual value of care for them. The words were then written on a large whiteboard and are being made into a poster to be displayed in the hospice office. In this way they can be appreciated everyday b staff and visitors. The words include: love from family, compassion, selflessness, peace, connection, understanding, joy, oneness, and many others!

Members of the GPH team enjoyed this opportunity to share an afternoon of reflection and spiritual values. The meeting ended at around 5 pm with a group visit to the new hospice building, which will open its doors on 28th February.


 


INDIA, Rishikesh, January 21st, 2017
A Bereavement Gathering  

On Saturday 21st January, GPH hosted its first gathering of bereaved relatives in an event of remembrance and celebration.

Art therapy, music and spiritual discourse provided the primary framework for the two hour afternoon program. The families of about twelve deceased GPH patients attended the gathering from Rishikesh, Haridwar and Dehradun. The GPH office veranda was filled with about forty people, including staff and many assistants.



The tree of remembrance being made
The tree of remembrance being made
a group photo at the bereavement event
a group photo at the bereavement event

 

 



Once most of the guests were seated, the formal program began with a short welcome address by Dr. Brenda Ward leading into an Indian classical music concert directed by Maestro Pankaj of Ramesh Shivanand School of Music, Rishikesh. The audience enjoyed the presentation of devotional singing in traditional ragas, followed by bansuri (bamboo flute) and sitar, accompanied by tanpura and tabla. Pankaj ji himself lost his mother to cancer, so it was particularly meaningful for him to perform at this event. (His mother was a GPH patient in the early days of the home care program.) The majority of participants in this group are bereaved and many sent messages of support and encouragement in the content of their quilted pieces. During a short break for tea and snacks everyone was invited to view the quilt up close, and anyone who hadn’t made a leaf on the art therapy tree was encouraged to do so.



Musicians lay at the event
Musicians lay at the event
Spiritual discourse before meditation
Spiritual discourse before meditation

 

 


After the break the afternoon’s program concluded with a short spiritual talk and guided meditation by hospice trustee and spiritual advisor, Nani Ma.

 


INDIA, Rishikesh, January 17th, 2017
GPH and Organic India

Organic India have kindly offered to support Ganga Prem Hospice and a meeting between one of their doctors and GPH staff took place at the GPH office in January.

The highly reputed international company Organic India, renowned for its quality organic products, has chosen to assist GPH through donation of their products which are likely to be of benefit to patients. The use of ayurvedic treatments is popular in India and is regularly used to complement allopathic medicine (those pharmacological drugs usually prescribed by the medical profession).

On 17th  January one of Organic India's ayurvedic doctors, Dr Mohit Bhalla, visited GPH to meet the team, ensure their understanding of the role of organic, ayurvedic treatments and to determine which products would be likely to be the most useful to those patients requiring complementary treatments. He made a presentation to twelve of the hospice staff and volunteers who appreciated the opportunity to ask questions about ayurvedic medicine, hear about some of the research findings and share with him the common symptoms experienced by palliative care patients.

The team look forward to being able to support their patients with the use of Organic India’s medicines and supplements.



 

INDIA, Haridwar, January 13th, 2017 
A Day of Sharing for GPH Children 

On 13th January ten children from Ganga Prem Hospice enjoyed a day of sunshine and recreation hosted by the fifty-five children and staff of Sri Ram Ashram orphanage.  

The GPH children included two child patients and eight more children in various stages of bereavement. Their ages range from five to fourteen and all were accompanied by one or two parents. These young individuals have already been through difficult challenges in their lives, whether facing the loss a parent or coping with illness themselves. In addition, many of the children are from poor families and thus rarely get the opportunity for this type of recreation. GPH was thrilled to be able to offer this special day in the loving environment of Sri Ram Ashram, facilitated by the matron, Rashmi Cole.

In the morning four GPH vehicles dispersed to collect the children and parent(s) from their homes around Rishikesh and Haridwar. Meanwhile preparations were busily underway at Sri Ram Ashram where the children helped to prepare the lunch for their expected guests. By mid-day the vehicles had all arrived and the visitors were greeted by Ms. Rashmi, her staff and the many joyful children of Sri Ram Ashram. Ms. Rashmi had made a point to learn the names and backgrounds of the GPH children in advance so that she could make them feel as welcome as possible.



GPH children on swings at the ashram
GPH children on swings at the ashram
GPH children play on the scooters
GPH children play on the scooters

 

 


The young guests quickly found themselves drawn to the extensive playground and new playmates, while the adults warmed themselves in the winter sun and enjoyed a relaxing interlude of conversation with new friends. The ashram recreation area features all the traditional amenities – swings, slides, monkey-bars, a merry-go-round and, on the opposite side of the road, basketball courts and grassy fields. Even the GPH drivers were inspired to join in the play with a frisbee. The outdoor play continued throughout the afternoon, interrupted only by a sumptuous lunch at noon and concluding with a delicious snack of Aloo Teeki before departure around 4pm.


Enjoying lunch at the ashram
Enjoying lunch at the ashram
Anjali collecting her Aloo Teeki
Anjali collecting her Aloo Teeki

 

 


One GPH child however was not able enjoy the playground: thirteen year old Reshu soon asked to lie down after sitting in a wheel chair for a short while after her arrival. Reshu has lost use of her left side due to a brain tumor and now frequently has difficultly even holding her head up. She and her mother live alone in a tiny flat in Haridwar and rarely receive visitors. For more than two years, Reshu has been mostly house-bound so this outing was a special opportunity for Reshu to be outside in nature with other kids. While the adults visited nearby, Reshu indeed enjoyed the company of many new friends who leaned in close to chat, sing and play games. For the entire day her cot was the point from which all activity radiated! A few days later, Reshu said that her favorite part of the day was cuddling with the ashram’s newest member, Arjun, a three month old baby boy.


Reshu with baby Arjun
Reshu with baby Arjun
Dr Brenda with Monica
Dr Brenda with Monica

 

 


Sitting near Reshu throughout the day, Ms. Rashmi shared stories of the ashram (often with one of three infants in her arms!) and monitored the bustling activity around her. Given her many years of experience with children in distress, she could easily spot the pain of Anjali and Monica, who had just lost their mother, GPH patient Suman Kashyap. Although Anjali is still young enough to lose herself for a few hours in play, Monica’s sorrow shadowed her pretty smile even as she joined in the games. The girls’ father is a poor manual laborer and has been pleading with GPH to find a boarding school for his daughters because he cannot care for them properly. Moved by their plight, Ms. Rashmi pledged her help in the search for a good boarding school, and GPH is actively seeking sponsors for the girls’ education.


Sharing games
Sharing games
Saying goodbye –till next time!
Saying goodbye –till next time!

 

 


Late in the afternoon as the courtyard passed into shadow, the visitors reluctantly prepared to depart, but no one wanted to leave the joyful ashram home. As Reshu was helped into the GPH van, her new friends crowded around still chatting and promising to visit soon. For GPH the day was successful beyond all expectation thanks to the Sri Ram Ashram family. According to Ms. Rashmi, it was a special day all the way around: “We had so much fun with GPH. Let’s do it again. Thank you for allowing our children to participate in the incredible work GPH does and to allow them the opportunity to give rather than always receiving.”


 


INDIA, Dehradun, January 4th, 2017 
GPH and Uttarakhand Palliative Care Policy

Ganga Prem Hospice makes another step to facilitate and promote the Government of Uttarakhand to form a State Palliative Care Policy. 

Palliative care doctors from Ganga Prem Hospice met National Health Mission Director, Dr Neeraj Khairwal (IAS, Additional Secretary) on 4th January, 2017, at the Director General Office in Dehradun, to plan a meeting of NHM Director and Non-Communicable Diseases Assistant Director with leading oncologists and cancer patient representatives from the State of Uttarakhand in order to request the Government to have a State Palliative Care Policy for Uttarakhand.

Other eminent doctors who intend to join the meeting are Dr Rajgopal, Director of WHO COLLABORATING Centre-TIPS, Trivandrum, Dr Sushama Bhatnagar, Palliative Care Consultant, AIIMS , New Delhi and Dr Ann Thyle, Palliative Care Consultant from Emmaneual Group of Hospitals, New Delhi.

This meeting will be an endeavour by Ganga Prem Hospice to reach out to more people suffering and dying in pain through a request to the Government of Uttarakhand to understand the need for palliative care and to take active measures in this direction. The meeting has been fixed for the 23rd February, 2017.


 

 

INDIA, Rishikesh, December 25th, 2016 
December Clinic

Ganga Prem Hospice’s last cancer clinic of the year fell on a cold and rainy Christmas Day. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a busy seven hour clinic, registering 93 patients in total.

Of these, 56 were suffering from cancer, including eleven terminally ill individuals and four suspected cancer cases. As usual, breast cancer (ten cases) and oral cancers (eighteen cases), were the most prevalent. There were patients whose prognosis was poor, such as a pancreatic cancer patient for whom palliative care was certainly the need of the hour, and there were other patients for whom surgery and curative treatment was possible. Patients came from all over Uttarkhand state and their ages ranged from nine to seventy years old. Ten current GPH home care patients also came for a follow up visit with the oncologist.  



Patients waiting outside the clinic
Patients waiting outside the clinic
Christmas tree at the clinic
Christmas tree at the clinic

 

 


In honor of the Christmas Day holiday, volunteers arrived early to decorate the clinic with tinsel, a Christmas tree and a welcome banner. The hospice staff were also ready to begin earlier than usual since senior surgeon Dr AK Dewan would be the only oncologist at the clinic.

Dr. Dewan was supported by palliative care doctors Aditi Chaturvedi and Brenda Ward, two dental surgeons from Seema Dental College & Hospital, and an Ayurvedacharya. GPH staff, nurses and volunteers, including two complementary therapists– a Reiki master and a physical therapist - were also on hand to assist and contribute. Another volunteer doctor conducted relaxing meditation sessions for patients in a quiet room nearby.


Meditation at the cancer clinic
Meditation at the cancer clinic
The boy patient with his father and sponsor
The boy patient with his father and sponsor

 

 


As Ganga Prem Hospice becomes more widely known and respected in Rishikesh, patients are now frequently referred to the clinic by local individuals such as the proprietors of Rajasthani Mishthaan Bhandaar. This restaurant provides tea, refreshments and meals for all hospice events, donates rations to poor patients and even gave a job to a young boy whose mother died of cancer. After recently reading about an ill child in the newspaper who requires weekly blood transfusions, the restaurant proprietors not only started supporting the under-privileged family but also brought the patient and his father to the GPH cancer clinic. From the clinic the child was referred to a leading cancer institute in Delhi where his condition was diagnosed as Congenital Pure Red Cell Aplasia, a serious and rare anaemia condition that can cause limited life expectancy. Dr Dewan confirmed that the pediatric oncologist's directions were correct and suggested that treatment should be continued under her guidance.

By the end of the clinic, twenty-six different cancers had been recorded among the fifty-six cancer patients. Two oncologists from a Dehradun-based cancer hospital also came to meet Dr Dewan and see the work of GPH, and an Ayurvedacharya from Kerala, who was visiting the clinic for the first time, offered free therapy for terminally ill patients. Four young nurses from Haridwar were  interviewed for employment at the Hospice.


 


INDIA, Rishikesh, 17th December, 2016
GPH Second Christmas Party

Christmas was celebrated again this year with patients, their families, bereaved family members, staff, supporters and volunteers at the GPH office in Rishikesh on Saturday 17th December, 2016. The event provided an opportunity for everyone to come together to relax, share a meal and enjoy music and dance.

Early in December, a team of volunteers began preparations for the party to ensure that the event was sponsored, food provided and entertainment arranged. Invitation cards delivered by the home care team were hand-made in order to provide a personal touch. For those not well enough to attend, close family members were invited to join the party on their behalf.  



Patients and their relatives enjoying the party
Patients and their relatives enjoying the party

Local businesses, including the supportive retreat centre Ananda Spa, were approached for donations. They kindly provided snacks, drinks, stationary and decorations for the office. Some Ananda Spa staff also attended the function to provide support. A few local individuals also gave financial support for the event and in this way all costs for the day were covered. Publicity of the event was a good opportunity to further raise awareness of GPH locally.

 

 

 


On the morning of the party, GPH staff and volunteers decorated the office with a Christmas banner, lights, tinsel and balloons. The setting looked delightful!





  Each patient (or their family member) was welcomed to the venue with chai, juice and snacks as they arrived. Once everyone had arrived, all present enjoyed a delicious meal together complements of the nearby restaurant, Rajasthani Misthan Bhandaar. A local donor provided a lovely cake, and wonderful chocolate ladoos from a visiting supporter completed the meal.
Volunteers serving the food
Volunteers serving the food
 



Children of the Ganga dance for the attendees
Children of the Ganga dance for the attendees

A mixture of Christmas music and Bollywood music added to the party atmosphere and the dancing soon began! Local children were invited to perform including children from a Rishikesh NGO, 'Children of the Ganges' who sang and danced for the party attendees. Several musicians who were visiting Rishikesh also performed including musicians from France and South America.

 




  To everyone's delight Father Christmas himself came to distribute gifts to the attendees. Each family received a book with lovely pictures of the Ganges and some rose petal perfume. Donated boxes of Indian sweets were also distributed to the guests, complements of G. Sweet shop, Dehradun.
Father Christmas at GPH party
Father Christmas at GPH party
 

 

 


The party concluded with a game of Piñata, arranged by a Mexican supporter who taught the group how to play: the players attempt to break open a decorated clay pot whilst blind folded and the winner is rewarded with its contents– sweets and small gifts– which were then shared with the children. The game inspired much laughter.

The party was attended by around 100 guests. A thoughtful 13 year old patient who has a brain tumour brought a small Christmas tree and a card for the GPH team. Although it is now difficult for her to travel, her attendance moved the team immensely; she has such a beautiful smile!

The second Christmas party at GPH was deemed by all to be a great success. Both poignant and joyful memories were shared by many of those present, some of our patients who are no longer with us were lovingly remembered. It was wonderful to see so many of our bereaved families again, and to see current patients enjoy themselves for a few hours with their team of caretakers. It was a beautiful way to end 2016 indeed.


 


INDIA, Rishikesh, 26th 27th 28th November, 2016
GPH Second Palliative Care Course

GPH carried out the Indian Association of Palliative Care ‘Essentials of Palliative Care Training’ course for health care professionals in Uttarakhand.

On 26th November 2016, fifty-five health care professionals from around Uttarakhand attended the Ganga Prem Hospice-led Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) training course in palliative care. This was the second such event carried out by the Hospice. Following the success of the previous course in November 2015, this year’s course was attended by a greater number of professionals. The event was hosted by the team from Seema Dental College & Hospital, Rishikesh. Dr Hemanshu Aeran, the Principal Director of the college, is instrumental in his inspiration to both dental teachers and dental interns who, it is recognised, can play a valuable role in palliative care particularly due to the high numbers of cancers of the head and neck found in India. The course was supported by the IAPC and sponsorship came from the Maharatna company Indian Oil Corporation and Dr Rudranath Talukdar, an oncologist from the region.



The chief guests with Dr Aero and Dr Dewan
The chief guests with Dr Aeran and Dr Dewan
The Dean of Aims is honoured at the ceremony
The Dean of AIIMS is honoured at the ceremony

 

 


The inauguration ceremony of the programme saw the Dean of the prestigious AIIMS Hospital in Rishikesh, Dr Surekha Kishore, along with Dr Ajeet Gairola, Consultant at the National Health Mission, Government of Uttarakhand as the guests of honour. Both spoke of their appreciation of the GPH initiative to bring palliative care to the region. Dr Gairola was asked and agreed to support the request made by Dr Dewan, Medical Director of GPH, to ensure the local government builds a suitable road to the hospice new inpatient unit.

For three full days, the GPH team were able to share their knowledge and skills with professionals who were dedicated to improving their understanding and practice of palliative care. Participants included doctors, nurses, and dentists as well as a few non-professional supporters of the hospice who also wished to increase their knowledge of the topic.  Attendees were mainly locally based; Rishikesh and Dehradun.  Dr Ann Thyle, an experienced palliative care consultant practising in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, once again kindly agreed to be the course secretary. 

The course topics covered all domains of palliative care including aspects of oncology taught by the GPH oncologists, Dr Dewan and Sharma and the role of dentistry in palliative care by Dr Aeran. Dr Dewan and Dr Aditi Chaturvedi both gave an introduction to the concept of palliative care. Other topics included a detailed presentation on pain management by Dr Mayank Gupta (Pain Specialist and Anaesthetist from Sri Mahant Hospital, Dehradun) and symptom control lectures by Dr Brenda Ward, Consultant in Palliative Medicine from the UK. Dr Thyle discussed palliative care for HIV patients and for children and Dr Rupali Dewan described the issues faced by the elderly and provided teaching on pressure sores. Dr Dominique Cassidy, Consultant psychiatrist from Switzerland addressed the psychological and spiritual aspects of palliative care as well as the topic of bereavement. Nursing issues were taught by Srs Marie Francois Scharll (Belgium) and Christine Solly (New Zealand) and Mark Miller (USA).


Dr Aeran addresses the participants
Dr Aeran addresses the participants
Dr Dewan speaks at the course
Dr Dewan speaks at the course

 

 


In addition, time was given to discussing the importance of communication skills. The GPH trainers used demonstrations and role plays to demonstrate their teaching. The subject of ethics in palliative care was also covered by Dr Chaturvedi. The discussion included withdrawing life prolonging treatments in patients who are deemed to be dying. This is a controversial subject in India and is currently being addressed in the legal circles. The role of advance care planning (planning for future issues on health care at the end of life) was also addressed.

The team aimed to provide another view of palliative care by inviting the relatives of two patients who had been cared for by the GPH team prior to their passing. Both were glad to share their experiences. They talked about the difficulties they had faced as carers and how the support of the palliative care team, both through the control of symptoms and the emotional support for the patients and themselves had helped them.  Participants reported that hearing from those who had been in the situation added to the impact of the training.

Time was spent by Drs Thyle and Chaturvedi encouraging participants to consider ways they could take forward palliative care in their own place of work. Participants appeared inspired to address the situation. The group suggested they start up a ‘WhatsApp’ group for themselves in order to stay connected and to share information and inspiration. They will return together again early in 2017 to undertake the exam in the Essentials of Palliative Care training. They will also have to write a reflective study on a palliative care patient they have cared for in order to achieve the qualification.


Dr Aditi explains a point
Dr Aditi explains a point
Participants of the course listen to the lectures
Participants of the course listen to the lectures

 

 


Ganga Prem Hospice would like to thank Seema Dental College for their assistance in organising and carrying out the course, their sponsors Indian Oil and oncologist Dr Talukdar for the financial assistance required to support the course as well as the volunteers, both local and international who attended each day to provide assistance for the preparation and administrative tasks needed. Their help and encouragement has been invaluable. The team were delighted to have been able to provide this course through this collaboration and look forward to carrying out further such courses in the future.


 


INDIA, Rishikesh, November 27th, 2016
November Clinic

The November 2016 cancer clinic of Ganga Prem Hospice welcomed 86 patients from cities and towns all over Uttarakhand state including Dehradun, Tehri Garhwal, Roorkee, Meerut, Bijnor, Haridwar and Rishikesh.

The GPH team was split between handling the clinic and hosting a three-day palliative care training course in Rishikesh over the same weekend. Despite the extra demands, the clinic was very adequately staffed with two oncologists, two gynaecologists, a palliative care doctor, two dentists and an ayurvedaacharya. As always, the hospice team was supported by numerous volunteers including two nurses from the USA and Belgium who recorded patients’ vital signs prior to their medical consultation.



Dr Dewan giving consultation to a patient
Dr Dewan giving consultation to a patient
A patient resting at the clinic
A patient resting at the clinic

 

 


Several patients were very ill and rested on the clinic beds after being wheeled into the clinic on wheelchairs. They received gentle oil massages on their hands and feet while waiting for the doctors to attend to them. Eight existing home care patients visited the clinic to see the oncologists and four new patients were added to the home care programme, two from Haridwar and two from Rishikesh. Oncologists Dr. A.K. Dewan and Dr. S.K. Sharma had their hands full as 60% of the patients were found to be suffering from cancer and another 5% were suspected cases.




Jamuna preparing organic tea
Jamuna preparing organic tea

Free medicines and refreshments were distributed at the clinic and frequent cups of hot tea were appreciated in the cool weather. Seventy blankets for the new inpatient facility were donated by a visitor to the clinic while another visitor promised regular help after saying that the service at the clinic had deeply touched his heart.

 
 


INDIA, Rishikesh, 7th November, 2016
Oncologist from Pittsburgh Visits GPH

On 7th Nov. 2016, a CME (Continued Medical Education) was organized by Ganga Prem Hospice at Seema Dental College and Hospital in Rishikesh.



  About 150 people attended the event including students, interns, post graduate students and faculty. Dr. Gauri Keifer, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology and Hematology at the University in Pittsburg, USA, shared her expertise on the subject of head and neck cancers in a one hour lecture followed by a question and answer session. 
Dr Gauri Keifer lectures  in Rishikesh
Dr Gauri Keifer lectures  in Rishikesh
 

 

 


She discussed the treatment plans that are implemented for such cancers at her university hospital, and particularly emphasized the role of dentists in the early diagnosis of oral as well as other head and neck cancers. Dr. Gauri highlighted the need for hospice and palliative care in the case of advanced malignancies. She explained that when a cancer has advanced to a terminal stage, it is very important to stop anticancer medicines at the appropriate time in order to provide a better quality of life for the patient.

Dr Keifer also visited the inpatient facility, met with the GPH team and accompanied them on home care visits during her five day visit to the Hospice. In addition she  met with GPH medical director, Dr AK Dewan, in Delhi to discuss how she and her colleagues in the USA could render more assistance to the Hospice.

 


INDIA, Rishikesh, October 23rd, 2016
October Clinic

On Sunday October 23rd, 56 patients, including seven terminally ill cancer patients, attended the Ganga Prem Hospice monthly clinic in Rishikesh.

The clinic was held one week early, since the last Sunday of the month this year corresponds with the widely celebrated Divali festival. Due to the holiday and change of date, patient attendance was lighter than usual and the waiting time to see the doctor was consequently almost negligible. Dr. Sharma, a senior Radiation Oncologist from Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, traveled from Delhi to lead the medical team. He was supported by GPH palliative care doctor, Aditi Chaturvedi, and Ayurvedacharya Dr. J.P. Rathi, as well as the GPH full time nurses, staff and volunteers.



Dr Sharma studies a later-comer’s reports
Dr Sharma studies a later-comer’s reports
 

 

 

54% of the attending patients were suffering from cancer at various stages. Breast cancer was the most common malignancy, followed by buccal mucosa. In total, there were eleven cases of head and neck cancer, and six patients with oral cancer. GPH added four new patients from the clinic to the regular home care roster. The remaining patients received advice and medication for other maladies such as viral fever, high blood pressure and the common cold.


  Among the three home care patients who attended the clinic was an elderly sannyasi lady who has been with GPH since the early years of the home care service. Her cancerous breast wound had once healed up but is now open again requiring daily dressings from the GPH nurse. She attended the clinic to show the oncologist the numerous blisters which are appearing over her breast and upper chest.
GPH nursing assistant Jamuna with the sannyasini
GPH nursing assistant Jamuna with the sannyasini
 

Dr Aditi with the fruit seller
Dr Aditi with the fruit seller

In addition to medical support, GPH often offers various types of financial support to needy patients and their families. A very poor fruit seller from Rishikesh came to the clinic with abdominal cancerand was seen by both the oncologist and the palliative care doctor. GPH will sponsor the beginning of his radiotherapy and will help him to apply to Hans Foundation to finance his ongoing cancer treatment 

 

 


India, Rishikesh, 11th October 2016
Krishna Das Sings to a Full House in Rishikesh

Over five hundred and fifty people gathered on the Dushhera festival afternoon of October 11th in Rishikesh for the tenth annual Ganga Prem Hospice charity concert.

Kirtan king Krishna Das played for nearly three hours, enchanting the audience with his beloved devotional chants. Although many of the songs were familiar from years past, the power of his music is such that the joy of hearing it only increases with time. KD requests, and in fact relies on, the audience to join him in the repetition of the divine names thereby creating a beautiful atmosphere of collective devotional practice.



A full hall sings along with Krishna Das
A full hall sings along with Krishna Das
Devotees enthralled by Krishna Das
Devotees enthralled by Krishna Das

 

 

Before the musicians took the stage, the short video was shown as an introduction to the activities of Ganga Prem Hospice. Although it was a warm day for October, the large international audience was enthusiastic at this opportunity to see the legendary performer in holy Rishikesh and support the cause of local hospice care.

The concert began with the slower, meditative“Shri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram” chant, and increased in intensity and tempo as the afternoon progressed, prompting the audience to sing along and dance. KD performed his old favorites and traditional chants like “Hanuman Chalisa” as well as his rousing version of the American gospel classic, “Jesus on the Mainline.”


A patient singing in the kirtan
A patient singing in the kirtan
Krishna Das talks with Reshu
Krishna Das talks with Reshu

 

 


The Hospice patients were invited and many of them who were able came to listen and join in the singing. Two patients from Haridwar, a child and an elderly patient, were picked up and dropped back at home by a GPH vehicle. A thirteen year old patient, Reshu, who came with her mother and uncle, was introduced to KD at the end of the concert, who very lovingly spoke to her and made the child feel special.


Arjun on the tabla
Arjun on the tabla
Krishna Das has his hand autographed by a little fan
Krishna Das has his hand autographed by a little fan

 

 


KD was accompanied by tabla master Arjun Bruggeman, who himself has performed in Rishikesh almost as many times as the chant master himself. In this,his tenth annual concert for Ganga Prem, KD was as gracious as ever, spending a lot of time with his fans and admirers both before and after the performance. He was freely available to those who wanted to meet to him or have a photograph taken with him. He smiled, laughed and answered all their questions.

Outside of the concert hall numerous vendors and GPH volunteers sold gifts and edibles to the concert attendees throughout the afternoon, thereby raising additional funds and increasing awareness of GPH activities. As before Organic India generously provided cups of free tulsi tea at the venue. People were moved to contribute as they could in donation boxes, and several people expressed interest in volunteering in the future.


Stalls manned by volunteers
Stalls manned by volunteers
 

 

 


As always, the entire show was managed entirely by a dedicated group of volunteers from Ganga Prem Hospice. Menakshi Goenka and Anil Gupta spear-headed the planning, while a whole host of other volunteers assisted with publicity, invitations, managing the stalls, guiding the guests, and even cleaning the venue in preparation for the concert. The Ganga Prem Hospice staff worked equally hard, managing the logistics, and providing behind the scenes support for the concert preparation work which began weeks in advance.

In the end, the concert not only helped introduce Ganga Prem Hospice to several hundred people, but also raised a handsome five hundred thousand rupees for the Hospice work. 



 

INDIA, Dehradun, 8th October, 2016
Palliative Care Week: Community Awareness Walk

On Oct. 8th Ganga Prem Hospice organized a one hour walk through Dehradun city as part of its World Hospice and Palliative Care Week initiatives.

In addition to Ganga Prem Hospice staff and volunteers ( including some patients and bereaved family members), the walk was supported by the Rotary Club, Jolly Grant Cancer Research Institute, Sai Soham Samiti, students of Hopetown School, Doon Cambridge School and Hilton School. The enthusiastic participants chanted slogans such as, “Pain relief is our right,” and carried banners such as, “Palliative care is our responsibility,” and “Treat the patient as a whole, not just the hole in the patient.”



A elderly patient on the march
A elderly patient on the march
GPH nurses taking part
GPH nurses taking part

 

 

GPH utilized the occasion to launch its “5 Rupees for Pain Relief Scheme.” The cost of pain relief medication for a hospice patient is a mere five rupees for four to six hours, or about one rupee per hour. At this rate there is no reason why the terminally ill should be denied the basic human right to pain relief. Seeing these statistics, many people from the streets came forward to donate and several expressed their interest in becoming hospice volunteers. The Rotary Club in particular committed to further promotion of the 5 Rupees Scheme through its membership in Dehradun.

 


INDIA, Rishikesh ,Dehradun, 7th, 8th October, 2016
World Palliative Care Week: Three CMEs

As part of GPH World Palliative Care Week initiatives, Dr. Aditi Chaturvedi spoke at three medical institutions in Rishikesh and Dehradun. 

She spoke to about 100 college faculty and hospital staff at AIIMS on Friday 7th October, including both the Hospital Director and College Dean; to an audience of about 150 faculty and students at Shridev Suman Subarti Medical College; and to 50 or 60 professionals at Jolly Grant Cancer Research Institute on Saturday the 8th October. The lectures focused on the humanitarian responsibility of medical professionals to provide greater access to end of life care.






 

 

Dr. Aditi explained that as the rate of chronic illnesses continues to increase, it has become clear that hospital acute care is only a small part of the services required by the health care community. Only 10-15% of deaths occur suddenly, yet a disproportional amount of medical resources are focused on these 10-15%. For the great majority, dying from chronic illness is a process that can span months or years. Even those who can afford care often do not wish to spend their final days in the impersonal environment of an intensive care unit.

Dr. Aditi emphasized that while curing illness has been the primary duty of modern medicine, we must also recognize that dying does matter. She encouraged her audiences not to shy away from talk about death, as this step can help to bring palliative care awareness into the medical mainstream. A terminal diagnosis need not be a failure, but can be another opportunity to fulfill a doctor’s vocation of care.

She also spoke about the call from WHO to improve long-term care models, and she introduced some resources provided by the Indian Association of Palliative Care which can help medical professionals identity the stages of dying, and guide them on how to help both patients and their families through this process.

Dr. Aditi’s inspiring lectures and outreach work continue to complement the wonderful patient care she provides at GPH!



 

INDIA, Dehradun, October 7th, 2016
GPH Hosts Dehradun Patients’ Picnic

Following the success of a similar event in Rishikesh for World Hospice and Palliative Care Week, GPH invited Dehradun patients and their families for an afternoon of sharing, games and singing.



Games in progress at the party
Games in progress at the party
A Dehradun patient tells his story with GPH
A Dehradun patient tells his story with GPH

 

 

The event was hosted on October 7th at the farmstead of Sai Soham Samiti, a home for children with special needs. The children sang devotional songs for everyone and enchanted the audience with their carefree nature and innocent expressions of love. Two GPH patients, Chaman Lal and Dishesh Gussain, also led songs. After the games the program ended with refreshments for all provided by Sai Soham Samiti. Social celebrations such as this picnic provide a valuable break from the stress and worries of day to day life with terminal illness. Sai Soham Samiti has been supporting the work of GPH for several years by hosting clinics and events such as this as well as providing transport for Dehradun patients to come to cancer clinics in Rishikesh.



 

INDIA, Rishikesh, October 5th, 2016
World Hospice Week Gathering in Rishikesh

On October 5th Rishikesh patients and families joined staff and volunteers at the GPH headquarters for an afternoon of sharing in honor of World Hospice Week.

Every year, during the first week of October, hospice outreach activities are hosted across the globe to honor end of life care professionals and raise awareness of hospice activities worldwide. The primary purpose of the Rishikesh event was to facilitate sharing and to support a feeling of community amongst patients, families and GPH care-givers.

The program began with an introduction by Dr. Aditi in which she explained the purpose of the day’s gathering and provided a summary of GPH’s origins and growth. She then invited the patients and family members in attendance to introduce themselves and share their stories of living with terminal illness. In addition to the physical challenges they were enduring, all the patients also brought up the financial burden of their care and treatment. Everyone expressed in emotional language their gratitude to GPH for its contributions to both patient care and material support.



A poor patient’s husband expresses gratitude to GPH
A poor patient’s husband expresses gratitude to GPH
A patient tells how GPH is helping him
A patient tells how GPH is helping him

 

 

The group then joined in the singing of bhajans, followed by snacks and drinks, and ending with a series of games with prizes for the children. A patient who was resting in an adjacent room was drawn in by the laughter and was helped to a chair so that she could enjoy the fun.


  A similar GPH gathering occurred in Dehradun on October 7th, followed by a hospice awareness walk and lecture on October 8th.  
Playing games at the gathering
Playing games at the gathering
 
 


INDIA, Rishikesh and Haridwar, October 2nd and 3rd, 2016
Ananda Spa Therapists at GPH

Two specialists in therapies for patients with cancer led a team of therapists from Ananda Spa on home care visits with the GPH team on 2nd and 3rd October

Julia Bach, Educator Founder ‘Wellness for Cancer’ from Australia and Sharla Charnley, Spa Consultant & Trainer in Massage and Yoga visited Ganga Prem Hospice on the 2nd and 3rd of October with a group of therapists from  Ananda Spa near Rishikesh. The groups joined GPH home care teams on visits in Rishikesh and Haridwar on two consecutive days seeing 10 patients in Rishikesh and 7 patients in Haridwar. The teams included Tirtha Roy Choudhary, the Director of Human resources at Ananda who coordinated the visits with Menakshi Goenka of Ganga Prem Hospice and Gregory Urgin, the Director of Spa Training at Ananda.



Ananda Spa therapists massage a patient
Ananda Spa therapists massage a patient
a relaxing massage for a patient
a relaxing massage for a patient

 

 

The therapists spent from 40 minutes to an hour in each home—speaking to the patients, taking photographs and notes and providing therapeutic massages and healing energies to the patients inclusive of reiki. The patients were relaxed and many of them went to sleep during the treatments. The patients and their families found themselves being thoroughly pampered, being treated with special hydrating oils and creams from Ananda Spa.

The treatments included full body massage and head and foot massages. Treatments for which visitors at luxury spas would pay thousands of rupees were lovingly given to the Hospice patients absolutely free of charge. In most cases the teams left the homes with the patients sleeping peacefully.


A patient receives a head ad foot massage
A patient receives a head ad foot massage
Spa therapists with Reshu
Spa therapists with Reshu

 

 


Most patients wanted the therapists to come again. One patient who had a lot of knee pain was visibly relieved and came to say goodbye at the door. GPH wonder-kid Reshu wished to communicate with all the therapists on WhatsApp, and took a promise from each that they would come and see her again soon.

We thank Ananda Spa for this much appreciated service and especially Mr Roy- Choudary for coordinating these two days so beautifully. We look forward to Ananda Spa’s continued support and hope that the therapists will return to visit our patients and train us in these various techniques which were so beneficial and soothing.


 


INDIA, Rishikesh, September 25th, 2016
September Clinic 2016

Eighty-two patients were attended to by six doctors and three nurses at the Ganga Prem Hospice September 25th cancer clinic.

Although the patient count was moderate, the clinic was a busy one as patients with cancer (65%) far outnumbered the non-cancer cases. There were sixteen cases of oral cancer alone. Ten terminally ill patients and three suspected malignancy cases were also among the patients seen.



Drs AK and Rupali Dewan with a patient
Drs AK and Rupali Dewan with a patient
Gynaecologist, Dr Saxena giving consultation
Gynaecologist, Dr Saxena giving consultation

 

 

Senior surgical oncologist Dr AK Dewan and gynaecologist Dr Rupali Dewan attended to a majority of the patients, supported by a local gynaecologist, an Ayurvedacharya, and a dental surgeon from the Seema Dental College & Hospital, Rishikesh. Palliative care doctor, Aditi Chaturvedi took up the mantle of counselling the patients after their oncological consultation


The dentist advises a patient
The dentist advises a patient
Dr Aditi with a terminally ill patient
Dr Aditi with a terminally ill patient

 

 


The widow of a deceased GPH patient brought a sixty-five year old gentleman with oral cancer to the Ganga Prem Hospice cancer clinic for the first time. He could not afford treatment so Dr Aditi explained how to apply for financial help. The kind widow explained that she wanted to be a part of the Hospice service and help other patients with cancer and so she keeps a look-out for people suffering from the disease and brings them along to the clinic. This gentleman was the third patient she has brought since her husband passed away a few months ago.

There were others at the clinic who were long-time patients of the Hospice and had come for repeat consultations. These included some elderly patients who were in advanced stages of cancer, four home care patients, as well as a four-year old girl undergoing treatment for leukemia. As Dr Dewan consulted with the father, he lovingly put his hand on the child's shoulders. Even though she listened intently to what as being discussed, it was far beyond the little girl's understanding.


Dr Dewan inspects a child patient’s tongue
Dr Dewan inspects a child patient’s tongue
Volunteers help a patient into a wheelchair
Volunteers help a patient into a wheelchair

 

 


Volunteers played a huge part in running the clinic as always - attending to wheel-chair bound patients, calling patients in to the consultation room, scanning the prescriptions, dispensing medicines, and serving tea and fruit juice. The Rajasthani Mishthan Bhandar continued to open-heartedly provide refreshments for the patients and the Hospice team.


 
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