India, Gohri Maphi, 30th April, 2018 Sukhadaayini Ma Ganga Mandir Pranapratishta With the blessings of Ma Ganga, the 'pranpratishtha' (sacred consecration) of the Sukhdaayini Ma Ganga temple at Ganga Prem Hospice took place on the auspicious full moon day of Buddha Purnima, April 30th, 2018.
The temple ready for the puja
Decorating the hospice
The small temple at the hospice is made of charming pink stone and is built in a traditional Rajasthani architectural style with a high dome and stone lattice work. Along with Ganga Ma’s murti (idol) which is five and half foot tall are two smaller murtis, one of Hanuman ji and one of the god of medicine, Sri Dhanwantari. All three murtis are made of white marble. In the centre of the temple is a Narmadeshwara Shiva lingum named Karuneshwara and he is accompanied by small marble murtis of his family, Ma Parvati, Ganeshji, Kartikae and Nandishwara
Dr AK and Dr Rupali Dewan at the puja
Four of the pundits at the puja
Many weeks of preparation went into the marking of the day, when the idols of the deities were finally consecrated after traditional temple rituals which went on from early morning. Five pundits chanted and performed the pujas to invoke the deities. The pujas, which included havan (fire sacrifice) held in the temple courtyard , reached a climax when the temple doors were closed from inside and with only the pundits and the yajman present, the final mantras were chanted and the red cloths covering the eyes of the murtis were removed. The chief yajaman (patron on whose behalf the puja is done) of the ceremony was Dr AK Dewan, along with his wife, Dr Rupali Dewan. Friends and supporters of Ganga Prem Hospice attended the ceremony, which lasted for around seven hours and was followed by a sumptuous lunch.
local children enjoy the feast
The hospice cat ready to do her part
The staff and volunteers of the hospice worked extremely hard preparing for the day, decorating not just the temple, but the entire hospice for the occasion. The auspicious mango leaf garlands were hung on door jambs and flowers garlands decorated the temple and the pavilion which had been set up for the occasion. The event was perfectly organised and everyone present had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Even the hospice cat did her bit by giving birth to three kittens in the midst of the festivities!!!
The temple will soon be adorned with multi-religious symbols, allowing people of all faiths to pray comfortably there.
INDIA, Rishikesh, April 29th, 2018 April Clinic The Ganga Prem Hospice April 2018 cancer clinic in Rishikesh followed closely on the heels of a GPH cancer clinic which had been conducted in the city of Haridwar the previous day.
The Rishikesh cancer clinic of Ganga Prem Hospice is about to complete eleven years of its service. The monthly clinic has developed some distinctive features of its own: the availability of various specialities, oncology patients coming for regular check-ups, general patients coming for screening, and some non-cancer patients who still come every month because they have developed faith in the Ganga Prem Hospice doctors. The clinic invariably serves patients from a two-hundred kilometre radius, with patients from at least six or seven districts of the state of Uttarakhand (and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh) reaching the clinic. On many occasions, existing cancer patients of the clinic refer their friends to the GPH service, and bring them along to the clinic.
Dr Vats writes a prescription
Sister Priyanka with a patient
The April 29, 2018, cancer clinic of the Hospice was no different. Even though an additional clinic organised the day before in Haridwar meant that many existing patients of Haridwar and nearby areas benefitted, and did not have to travel all the way to Rishikesh, the clinic still saw seventy-five patients, and a high percentage of cancer patients (54%) among those.
Patients showed their appreciation by dropping donations in the donation box. One patient, a surgeon himself, who was not using his surgical instruments anymore, offered to donate them to the Hospice. Another donor, whose deceased wife was a home care patient of the Hospice, continued to visit the clinic to give his donation cheque, for the fourth year running. It is very encouraging for Ganga Prem to see how the clinics have become a stable feature in the lives of our patients and donors.
Dr Sharma listens to a patient’s symptoms
Dr Dewan reassures a patient
The oncologists who serve the patients have also maintained their dedication to charity work for years, travelling hundreds of kilometres to reach Rishikesh for the monthly feature. Surgical oncologist Dr AK Dewan and radiation oncologist Dr SK Sharma saw the majority of the seventy-five patients between them, reviewing their cases, offering them advice on the treatment they needed, and where they could obtain it, and how much it may cost them. Many of the Ganga Prem Hospice clinics have seen the oncologists going out of their way and promising free-of-charge or subsidised treatment to under-privileged patients, sometimes paying out of their own pocket and on other occasions waiving off their professional fee in case of surgeries.
India, Haridwar, 28th April, 2018 Haridwar Free Cancer Clinic Ganga Prem Hospice organised its seventh charitable cancer clinic in Haridwar on April 28th, 2018.
As so often when a clinic has been held in the pilgrimage town of Haridwar, it was an intense five hours that the team spent with many patients who were mostly suffering from cancer. Eleven patients had advanced stage disease and many of these patients' cancer had gone untreated. Without the surgery, therapy, and supportive treatment which should have been done long ago, they stood no chance of fighting off the disease. Almost all of these patients were from under-privileged economic background, and had very little education to understand and decide on what was the best course of action for them. They were counselled extensively by the GPH team who spoke sometimes to the patients, and sometime with the carers, advising them where to go for treatment, and how to apply for financial help. The patients were also given the option of home care and inpatient care wherever needed.
Mr Mehra and Kalpana at reception
Sister Surabhi dispenses medicines
A special characteristic of the clinic was that 21% of the patients had travelled to the clinic from far-off towns and villages—from the interiors of other districts of Uttarakhand and the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state. It is assumed that when the residents of Haridwar came to know that the charitable clinic was being held, they relayed the news to their family and friends elsewhere, who suffered from cancer, and who then decided to come and avail of the Ganga Prem Hospice service.
Surgical oncologist Dr AK Dewan saw most patients, assisted by senior general physician Dr GS Vats, whose expertise in diseases like tuberculosis, hypertension, and other non-oncological ailments was used.
Dr Dewan with a patient
Dr Vats gives consultation
A surprisingly high number of lung cancer cases were seen (five), while head & neck cancers were most prevalent. Six home care patients benefitted from the clinic being held in their home town, as they did not have to travel all the way to Rishikesh to seek consultation.
The clinic could not have been possible without the help of the Rotary Club of Ranipur, and the Maxwell Janjeevan Hospital, Kankhal, who offered their whole-hearted support to the endeavour. The Rotary Club of Ranipur sponsored the clinic, taking on the responsibility of the publicity efforts and interacting with the print and electronic media to help spread the news. The club also offered support at the venue and arranged for refreshments for the GPH team.
The Maxwell Janjeevan hospital offered its venue free-of-charge to Ganga Prem Hospice, and gave consultation rooms ready with all facilities. The hospice volunteers supported the doctors and the staff ably, taking on some of the crucial roles.
India, Nainital, 25th 29th April, 2018 Pallium – Ganga Prem in Nainital At the end of April, representatives from the GPH and Pallium India palliative care outreach project visited the important hill station of Nainital in the Kumaon region.
Their five day visit included many meetings with government officials, doctors and educators as well as a news channel interview and a one-day pain and palliative care workshop for local health professionals. Local newspapers also carried reports of the team’s visit and talks.
During their visit the outreach team, consisting of Dr. Mayank Gupta volunteer palliative care doctor at GPH and Ms. Shareena Bhaya, Pallium – Ganga Prem project manager, visited three large hospitals to speak about palliative care and hospice. Several doctors expressed support for expanding services and committed to taking palliative care training which is required in order for morphine to be made available to patients. Arrangements are being made by the hospice and Pallium India to facilitate the training.Following an encouraging meeting with the District Magistrate and local Lions Club members on April 27th, support emerged for establishing a palliative care OPD at Ramzay GB Pant District Hospital. TheGPH team was supported by palliative care doctors from nearby Haldwani.
On the way to Ramzay Hospital, Nainital
Birla Vidya Mandir Audience
In addition to the all-day medical training workshop on April 29th, the GPH doctor also made two informative presentations for the general public and media at Government Girls Inter College and Birla Vidya Mandir Auditorium. Local volunteers joined the team and helped with all the local arrangements. The volunteers and college students identified 18 patients in present need of palliative care services. They will be followed up by GPH nurses and doctors. The project team intend to return to Nainital in the next few months to further the seting up of a palliative care clinic and in the meantime will be in touch with the doctors and volunteers by phone and by a special WharsApp group established for the purpose.
India, Uttarkashi, 11- 14th April, 2018 GPH Promotes Palliative Care in Uttarkashi On April 11th three members of the GPH team, Dr. Aditi, Dr. Mayank and Ms. Shareena, traveled to Uttarkashi to visit patients and support expanding palliative care services in the region.
The agenda consisted of four days of advocacy meetings, home care visits, palliative care training for nurses and doctors, and a free cancer clinic – culminating in the unexpected inauguration of the district’s first palliative care center. The visit was a product of the recent collaborative efforts of GPH and Pallium India.
Cancer clinic in Uttarkashi
Inauguration of palliative care in district hospital
Upon arrival in Uttarkashi, the GPH team attended an evening meeting with several members of the local Rotary Club. The doctors took this opportunity to explain the purpose and value of palliative care, and to share some of their rewarding personal experiences working in this field. They encouraged the club to support the palliative care initiative through advocacy, educational outreach, and caregiver support.
The next day, Dr. Aditi and Dr. Mayank met with leading doctors and administrators at the Uttarkashi district hospital to discuss the possibility of a establishing a permanent palliative care department (OPD.)Following this meeting, they saw nine patients at the free GPH cancer clinic. Dr. Aditi then gave an educational presentation on palliative care for doctors and nurses at the hospital. In the evening the team met with the District Magistrate (DM,) Mr. Ashish Chauhan, who supported the immediate opening of the palliative care OPD.
Home Care in Uttarkashi
Dr Aditi giving a talk to school children in Uttarkashi
On April 13, Dr. Mayank gave a presentation on pain management at the hospital while Dr. Aditi and Ms. Shareena gave talks at a local school and college and established a roster of twelve patients in need of hospice home care. GPH local outreach nurse, Purushottam, will be offering ongoing home care to these and any new patients in the Uttar Kashi area. Dr. Mayank and Dr. Aditi also visited two patients at home.
The inauguration of the first palliative care OPD in Uttarkhand was held on April 14. Palliative care consultations will be available in the district hospital, room #9, every Thursday from 8am-2pm. GPH volunteers in Uttarkashi will be following up on the progress of the OPD and home care visits in coordination with the local nurse and Rishikesh-based medical team. In addition, a volunteer group is forming to help with the social problems of those needing palliative care.
India, Gohri Maphi, 14th April, 2018 Kirtan at the Inpatient Facility On the Vaisakhi festival long-time GPH supporters the Sai Soham Samiti from Dehradun visited the inpatient facility and held a kirtan there.
Participants listen to the satsang
Patients clap along with the kirtan
Seven inpatients and three home care patients along with carers and staff thoroughly enjoyed the two hour programme put on by the visitors. The programme was interactive and even the bedridden patients were able to join in. The event started with kirtan to the accompaniment of drum and symbols. Each member of the group led a kirtan, one after the other, with the audience joining in enthusiastically. The kirtan was followed by a short satsang with one of the members speaking about the inner light of the soul which can be joined with the light of Paramatma. The talk was touching especially for those of us who knew that the lady was also a cancer patient. Guided meditation followed which everyone joined in, some sitting on the floor and others staying in their chairs. The spiritual part of the programme culminated in an aarti with most of the participants enjoying offering the lights in front of the makeshift altar.
Then came time for games which most people were able to play and, much to their delight, some of the patients also won prizes. The afternoon ended with the Sai Soham devotees distributing tasty snacks and fruit juices. All agreed it had been a lovely afternoon and the Samiti people promised to come again soon.
India, Dehradun, 29th March, 2018 Bringing the Smile back to their Faces When a patient passes away, the rehabilitation and putting life back together for the bereaved loved ones is sometimes a long and always an emotional process. Ganga Prem Hospice assists many families to cope with the aftermath of losing a loved one.
One patient of the hospice had a particularly difficult life. Abused and abandoned by her husband, she lived with her three children in fear of his return while she herself was already stricken with end-stage cancer. She needed a lot of support to cope with her disease, as well as to be assured of her children's well-being, once she left this world. The Ganga Prem Hospice team regularly visits the brave children, who are living on their own, and are pursuing their education.
Earlier this week, a friend of Ganga Prem Hospice took the children out for fun and rides to the Fun Valley Amusement Park. The children much enjoyed their day of picnic, rides and water games.
INDIA, Rishikesh, March 25th, 2018 March Clinic The Ganga Prem Hospice March 2018 cancer clinic date fell on a twin festival day when everybody stays busy performing the 'ashtami and novami pujas, even so 61 patients reached the Rishikesh clinic for consultation, nearly half of whom were cancer patients.
Three new patients suffering from advanced stage cancer were promised home care - one each from Rishikesh, Haridwar and Dehradun. The counselling team spoke at length with patients and their families, who had varying degrees and different types of difficulties. While some patients needed home care, and were explained what the service could do for them, others lived in far-away cities. The details of those who lived far away were noted and they were given assurance of telephonic advice.
A young deceased patient's bereaved wife visited the clinic for the first time, after the passing away of her husband. She has two very little children and will need support after the long and traumatizing illness of her husband.
Sister Mamta and Dr Painuly comfort the young widow
One patient from Haridwar, who was already being given home care by the hospice, brought a neighbour of his to the clinic, another patient with advanced stage and metastasized cancer. He too was promised visits at home.
Dr Rupali Dewan with a patient
Dr Dewan explains the prognosis to a patient
Surgical oncologist Dr AK Dewan was the lead oncologist at the clinic, supported by five other doctors who gave consultations, as well as counselled patients. Two gynaecologists, a senior general physician, a visiting physician, and an Ayurvedacharya were among the doctors present.
Sister Priyanka distributes medicines
Ashtami puja for a bereaved child
Two nurses from District Uttarkashi were observers at the clinic, having been sent by their department to learn about palliative care at Ganga Prem.
New volunteers joined, and offered to take on the task of accompanying under-privileged patients to hospitals for their treatment and investigations. Some patients and their family members offered to volunteer for the hospice, within their home towns. Our friends from the Rama Foundation, Cambridge, UK, also visited the clinic.
India, Uttarkashi, 13-15th March, 2018 Pallium Ganga Prem – Uttarkashi In connection with the Pallium Ganga Prem project to bring palliative care to all corners of Uttarakhand, a reconnaissance team from Ganga Prem Hospice visited Uttarkashi on the 13th March.
Thanks to the help of the Saumyakashi Rotary Club and other residents of Uttarkashi the team’s visit was very successful. The team arrived in the early afternoon and after taking a bath in the river Ganga and eating a lovely meal at a local ashram the team visited pharmacies in the town to spread the word about the cancer camp that they planned to conduct the following morning.
With the pujari of Vishwanath temple
The team was invited to the evening Ganga aarti where they were honoured and introduced to members of the Rotary club who promised their full support for the project. After visiting the Kashi Vishwanath temple and meeting other Rotary club members and doctors, the team returned to the ashram to plan the next day’s work.
On the 14th morning, after meeting with the district hospital superintendent, the team gave consultations, counselling and free medicines to cancer patients who attended the camp. This was followed by a presentation on palliative care to the CMO and additional CMO of Uttarkashi district, the hospital superintendent and other doctors and nurses from the hospital. The presentation was well received and resulted in a lot of enthusiasm to open a palliative care centre in the area.
GPH free cancer camp in Uttarkashi
Palliative care presentation for doctor and nurses
As it had been planned to take one of the cancer patients and a destitute gangrene patient down to Rishikesh the team then visited a local ashram to ask for the use of their ambulance. This was readily granted although unfortunately the cancer patient passed away that evening. The gangrene patient was taken to a home for destitute people in Rishikesh where his condition is being cared for.
The team then met with the Uttarkashi District Magistrate in the early evening. He listened attentively and was very enthusiastic to open a palliative care centre in his district. He promised full support for the project and said he would personally apply for the permissions needed from the State government. The day was then completed with a home care visit in a small village some 10 kilometres from the town. The day had been long but very satisfying.
The final morning in Uttarkashi included a bereavement visit to the family of a long time patient of GPH and a tree planting ceremony on Varuna Parvat which overlooks the town.
GPH team on home care visit
As one member of the team stayed on in Uttarkashi, a follow up meeting was possible on the 20th of March and now the GPH team is in close touch with the palliative care pioneers of Uttarkashi. A further visit has been planned to train the doctors and nurses of the district hospital in the second weekend of April. In the meantime two nurses plan to visit the hospice for training from the 25th to 27th March.
INDIA, Gohri Maphi, March 1st, 2018 Holi at the Hospice Patients, families, staff and visitors celebrated the spring festival of Holi this year on 1st March 2018. The festival celebrates good triumphing over bad and is a time traditionally marked by having fun with colours.
Home care program patients were invited to join the patients at the hospice to enjoy music and dance performed by the school children from the local Tibetan Homes Foundation, Raiwala.
Traditional Tibetan dance
Following the traditional performance, popular music was played and the play with colours began. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed dancing and throwing colours on each other!
Come and play !!!
When everyone was exhausted with the celebrations, the Hospice kitchen team distributed drinks with sweet and savoury snacks and GPH drivers then returned their happy guests back to their homes.