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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.




 
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