by Dr. Zeena Johar, President – ICTPH
The launch of our clinic in Karambayam on Sep 6th, marked one of the finest days in the history of SughaVazhvu. With the second Rural Micro Health Centre (RMHC) on-board, we are now catering to a catchment population of 20,000 people. Our first clinic in Alakkudi went live in November of last year. Through multiple lessons learnt, we worked hard towards reaching sustainability in our healthcare delivery model. A number of innovations have followed – the primary one being the transitioning of our Community Health Worker – Nala Oli program into the SughaVazhvu Guide (SVG) role, from a volunteer to a full-time paid worker, as well as from community-based interventions to individually-based care. The new role sees the further move from voluntarily serving a population of 250 people for each Nala Oli, to provisioning population-based services to a population of a 1000 people through each SughaVazhvu Guide (SVG).
SughaVazhvu, as an institution, renders the mission of provisioning a quality-care continuum through its network of guides, nurses and doctors. Hence, critically evaluating our branding so as to bring in a proactive focus on wellness, and unite all human resources towards this endeavor, is critical to our mission. The successful launch of our RMHC, today, clearly sets that precedent. It is the first point of contact for a person at the village level, and having been through several iterations regarding design and services provisioned- it has finally evolved to a level where our dream of driving empirical medicine towards an evidence-based approach seems feasible. We have struck various partnerships with analytical companies to introduce hematology, multi-level biochemistry, microscopy and various strip-based tests nominally priced in our RMHC.
As we all drove to our RMHC today, I felt a deep sense of pride in our accomplishment. Additionally, there was the underlying nervousness that comes with launching a brand new RMHC in a new village and the subsequent and unknown response that will follow. Upon arriving in Karambayam, the sight of all our SVGs along with the nurses, doctor and all the attending ICTPH staff dressed in the SughaVazhvu uniform conveyed a strong sense of togetherness, a strong sense that bonded us all together, as we all joyfully work towards our united mission of serving the people through the delivery of high-quality healthcare services. Through the Karambayam RMHC, we serve a catchment area of 5 villages and a population of 10,000 people. Thanks to all the wonderful campaigning of our SughaVazhvu staff, we had the presence and representation of individuals from all our villages – village Presidents, Councilors, local populace and, of course, our very own KGFS.
We had a good round of introductions, followed by role-plays enacted by our SVGs and all of the presentations were very well received. During the afternoon, we initiated our health camp – records were taken of blood pressure (BP), height, weight, random glucose, hemoglobin, and visual acuity provisioned through our nurses, doctors and our most enthusiastic SVGs. The guests and the passersby kept trickling in, and we were up to 50 people at around 14:00, which is when we saw a lot of commotion on the other side of the road, only to realize to our dismay that an old woman was hit by a bike and was lying on the road.
All of the SughaVazhvu staff rushed to the spot, and the SughaVazhvu coordinators carried the lady to our RMHC. Our doctor along with our nurses cordoned the angry and restless public and attended to the patient to examine her neurological responses. She was an elderly woman and the shock of the accident was extremely upsetting for her. Furthermore, her BP was high; hence stabilizing her immediately was most critical. Her insulin level was deemed to be in the normal range, and the physical exam revealed some swelling on her head, as well as her self-reported dizziness was a sign of concern. Thankfully, after 30 minutes or so of monitoring her in our clinic, her BP returned to normal, and she felt comfortable with herself, and that is when she was escorted by one of our coordinators along with her family members to Pattukotai (the nearest town) for an X-Ray. Tomorrow, when we return to the field, we will follow-up on her and ensure that all services that can be provisioned through our RMHC are extended to her in a timely fashion.
This incident drew the attention of almost the entire village to these individuals dressed-up in navy-blue zigzag clad uniforms and led to a ‘crowd-burst’ at our RMHC. For us, it was an outstanding and a humbling reaction from the community. At the end of the day, we served 125 people in our Karambayam RMHC and 90 in our Alakkudi RMHC.
Such a promising and supportive response from these communities only assures me further that we all stand together to succeed through the launch of our second RMHC!