GM Priya Hospital
Neelabai, a 50-year-old woman, was shattered by her HIV positive diagnosis. She had complained of severe weakness, cough, and weight loss, but due to financial problems had put off visiting a doctor. HIV was an unheard-of ailment when she left her husband following domestic abuse in 1995, so she had never gotten herself tested.
To add to her worries, her daughter had been tortured by her son-in-law. He eventually left the family after Neelabai’s daughter died under suspicious circumstances suggestive of her having been set on fire.
This meant that Neelabai was the sole caretaker of her two grandchildren, aged 6 and 8, who had grown up calling her their mother. Neelabai’s only support was her own mother, aged and bent in her 70s.
When Neelabai finally did visit the government hospital, she was diagnosed with HIV complicated by severe pulmonary tuberculosis. Following her diagnosis, she faced discrimination by the hospital staff, who refused to place her in a ward or give her medicines, forcing her to sleep on the floor. Unable to bear their callousness, Neelabai left the hospital without being given treatment, despite having stayed there for three days. She was told about EHA’s GM Priya Hospital (GMPH) and was brought there as a last resort by her mother.
At GMPH, Neelabai was treated with love and respect. She was moved to tears with the care she was given, and in the few days she was admitted, she recovered enough strength to stand without support. The entire cost of her stay in the hospital was paid for by the hospital and the local church. When she left, she shook each staff member’s hand, expressing her gratitude.
The palliative care team visited Neelabai and her family at home too, and enabled them to take advantage of free food rations offered by the government. The love and care Neelabai found at this hospital gave her the hope to push forward, and made her feel like she was worthwhile as a human being despite her illness.
Peace Before Passing
She was struggling with breathlessness and weakness when she was brought in to GM Priya Hospital. Gajarabai had been treated elsewhere for cancer, but she was now in an advanced stage.
The doctor examined her and the palliative care team began regular visits. They developed a strong relationship with the family over time and shared about God with them as well. It got to the point that when the team visited, if no one initiated prayer, the patient asked for it. Once Gajarabai understood that she was nearing death, she said she had worshiped so many gods, but they hadn’t helped her, “so I will worship God only.”
The day before her death the team visited, and Gajarabai was sleeping. They didn’t want to disturb her, but she heard their voices and woke up to speak with them. She said that she was satisfied with their treatment and home care, and she asked for the pastor to come and pray with her one more time. With that, she expressed that after her last prayer and worship time, she was ready to die. That night, she passed away. We are thankful for faithful EHA staff who reach out to the lost with not only medical care and pain management services, but with hope.
Appreciating Each Day
Though he knew he had leukemia, Madhukar sought no treatment, simply because he could not afford it. He was sad and depressed because he could not work due to his extreme fatigue. In the past, he had been employed as a cook for marriage parties and other large functions.
He was directed to GM Priya’s palliative care by a fellow patient. During the first home visit, Madhukar was very nervous and anxious. He lived with his wife and two sons, both under 12 years old. Fortunately, his in-laws were supportive and had been helping the family financially. His wife enjoyed cooking local snacks, so the team asked her to make extras to sell to the hospital staff. This gave her hope that she could contribute to the household finances.
After a thorough check-up, laboratory tests showed Madhukar to be severely anemic. His brother-in-law obtained two pints of blood to be transfused. Pain medication was started to alleviate Madhukar’s symptoms.
As the home visits increased and the palliative care team gained the trust of the family, Madhukar became more relaxed. The team shared about God and prayed with the family. Madhukar and his family have now accepted his condition, and they are happy with each day that passes that they can spend together. Madhukar often reads the Word from which he gains much peace.
His relatives are very grateful to GM Priya’s palliative care team that has so actively supported them over the past year. One family member shared, “Our loved one is happy and able to live a normal life because of your loving care and home visits.” It is a joy for the team to be involved so intimately in the lives of those who have so many difficult issues to face when diagnosed with a terminal illness.
New School Building Is Constructed in Faith
They once met in a shed, but now they have a new school building. Stepping out in faith, they began construction of a new facility, and God provided. Reaching out to the village children is a priority at GM Priya Hospital. In 1997 they saw a great need for an English Medium School for the rural children. So they started with five children and the resolve not to belittle a small beginning. Now the school goes up to the 10th standard (comparable to 10th grade in the U.S.) and includes computer education, sports, and inter-school programs. They strive to provide moral values and discipline for village children who might not otherwise have that input. With an enrollment today of 500, this school provides the opportunity to study in English rather than the students’ native Hindi, which opens doors of opportunity to these children. They are largely from poor families, and without EHA and the support of donors like you, they would never have a chance to pursue this kind of education.
HIV Awareness and Support
One patient helped recently at the Community Care Center (CCC) for PLHA’s (People Living with HIV Aids) was Asha. She arrived eight months pregnant and struggling with weakness. Suddenly, she went into labor in the night. It wasn’t safe for her to go to the government hospital where she had planned to deliver, so they delivered the baby at the center. The staff made plans for the baby to receive Antiretroviral Therapy to help treat the virus.
India continues to struggle under the burden of caring for the world’s second largest HIV/AIDS population. Other nations experience high infection rates as a percentage of their population, but the sheer number of the several million patients in India is overwhelming.
Because of this, the staff at GM Priya saw a critical need for HIV awareness. So they started a program in 30 surrounding villages and worked to help HIV-positive widows and to promote job literacy. They also started Self Help Groups. In 2006 they got government funding for running the CCC for PLHA’s. Reaching out in love to those who struggle with the stigma of this disease is just one way the staff at GM Priya show the love of God to those around them.
About GM Priya Hospital
GM Priya is one of the youngest hospitals in the EHA network. It was built in 1993 after the Latur earthquake struck the state of Maharashtra in Western India. Fifty-two villages were demolished and approximately 25,000 people died. The original setup included a 20-bed hospital with facilities for surgery, deliveries, and eye work, as well as an out-patient department and an in-patient department.
In 2006, change came to GM Priya. Ten of the twenty beds were allotted to the Community Care Center (CCC) for HIV positive patients. This was funded by the government, and it provided much-needed care for the many HIV/AIDS patients in the area. In 2008, all of the CCCs were placed under the direction of the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust funded by the National Aids Control Organization. Some of the directives for the program include providing care, support, treatment, and counseling, as well as positive prevention measures. They worked to get an ART Center started at the civil hospital in Latur so patients could get ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) medicine.
GM Priya also has an HIV awareness program in 30 surrounding villages. They work to empower women, especially HIV positive widows. Setting up Self Help Groups brought improvement in job literacy for this group of people. Another side of GM Priya’s ministry is their English Medium School for the rural children in their area. It provides education in the English language rather than the native Hindi, which brings these students more opportunities for their future.