Rehabilitation Scheme For State’s Patients

SSSIHMS

SSSIHMS


Rehabilitation Scheme For State’s Patients
– Aruna Chandaraju

The programme covering cardiac patients of SSSIHMS hailing from Karnataka began as a pilot project in 2005.

Anyone who has been discharged from a hospital after surgery, would know that once he pays his bills and leaves, the relationship with the hospital virtually ends there. Unless he himself were to renew contact by seeking a revisit-appointment. That is the norm anywhere.

Except at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSSIHMS), Bangalore, that offers zero-cost treatment to all patients. In a first-of-its kind project, called Sai Rehabilitation Programme, the hospital has been tracking all its cardiac-surgery patients across Karnataka including remote areas, and providing recuperative medical-rehabilitation services.

Moreover, this post-operative care is offered at a local doctor’s clinic i.e. almost at a patient’s doorstep, explains Programme Coordinator, M S Umesh Rao who, along with former SSSIHMS director Dr A N Safaya conceived of and developed the programme.

Thus the hospital’s protective umbrella covers the patient even after he leaves the hospital for his home, often hundreds of miles away.

Why this programme?
The management explained that post-surgery recuperative care––continuing doctor-consultations, regular medication and diagnostic tests, and lifestyle changes––is vital for cardiac patients. However, most patients are poor and illiterate––hence unlikely to understand this and do the needful. And considering that SSSIHMS gives its hi-tech treatment entirely free of cost, the doctors felt their efforts shouldn’t go waste once the patient returns home. Even in case of an aware patient wanting to return for a check-up, the effort and cost of travel involved could be daunting.

Rehab scheme
The Rehab Scheme uses the vast network of registered volunteers including doctors constituting Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation (SSSSO). This vast resource, divided district-wise, formed the starting point, explains Nagesh G Dhakappa, Karnataka State President, SSSSO.

So, how does the scheme work? First, the Sai Organisation enlists the support of volunteer-doctors across all 30 Karnataka districts.

The doctors are screened and attend an orientation workshop at SSSIHMS. These doctors–––who offer their services free of cost––submit their address and contact numbers to the hospital and to their own district’s Sai Organisation President and Coordinator all of whom then create a Rehab Scheme database.

When a patient from Karnataka––after surgery at SSSIHMS––is being discharged, his address is checked against the database to identify a doctor nearest his residence. This doctor’s contacts are given to the patient as part of his discharge summary.

He is asked to contact this doctor for three check-ups in the first six months following discharge, and also when he feels seriously unwell. Simultaneously, this doctor and relevant District President and Coordinator are contacted by SSSIHMS and given details of the patient being put under their charge and care.

With this two-way channel established, the patient visits this local doctor for regular consultations and lifestyle-check, all done free of cost.

This doctor also guides the patient in getting his medicines and follow-up tests from reliable pharmacists and labs.

The local doctor sends up the patient’s reports to SSSIHMS whose doctors are thus able to regularly monitor their patients from a distance. Based on these reports, if need be, SSSIHSM doctors might ask a patient to return to hospital––for further, zero-cost treatment.

In cases where the patient can’t afford the monthly medicines and tests (for eg, valve-replacement patients need expensive after-care), the local doctor and Sai Organisation members arrange free drugs and tests.

If a patient fails to report for check-up, the District President/Coordinator, who has his address, might even land up at his doorstep to take him to the clinic! The hospital, however, has been unable to reach out to a small percentage of patients who have relocated without informing SSSIHMS or local doctor of their new address.

Already, SSSIHMS has taken on the mammoth task of providing zero-cost, hi-tech medical care to thousands of patients. So, is not the Sai Rehab Programme a tremendous extra burden?

“Not at all,” replies Dr A S Hegde, Director, SSSIHMS, “It is an extension of the hospital’s charitable work. In fact, we derive great satisfaction from being able to extend our service to patients even after they leave us and are living far away.”

The programme covering cardiac patients of SSSIHMS hailing from Karnataka began as a pilot project in 2005.

Given its success, it’s now being replicated for rest-of-India patients beginning with Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

A similar programme is being planned for neuro-patients too.

Deccan Herald Reference

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