Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital
Mrs. Lelabai is a farmer who owns just an acre and a half of land. She must try and support her family on the crops she can raise because she lost her husband to stomach cancer in 2016 and now lives with her teenage son and married daughter.
Recently the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) program approached the community development project staff at Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital (HBMH) about setting up demo plots for sesame seed crops. Oil seed crops are desirable because they sell for a good price, don’t need fertilizer, and can be grown with little water and poor soil.
The village of Bheloni Suwa chose Mrs. Lelabai for the program, and she received 4 1/2 pounds of sesame seeds to cultivate. Amazingly, she raised 717 pounds of sesame seeds on her small plot. Even after keeping 55 pounds for planting next year’s crop, she still earned $325, an enormous profit for her little family.
What’s more, when the KVK program officials heard about her success, they recognized her by including her story in their report about the program, and she was publicly honored by a well-known agricultural scientist when he came to HBMH for their annual community project event.
Now other farmers from the village are being encouraged to adopt these same farming practices pioneered by Mrs. Lelabai. EHA’s community project staff are invaluable in connecting government programs and benefits to the individuals in the villages who really need the help.
Relief from Pain and Hope for the Future
Thirty-eight-year-old Sita Ram Ahirwar lived just over a mile from Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital (HBMH) with his wife, Mamta, and their five children.
A poor man, he worked as a bus conductor commuting between Lalitpur and Jhansi. A year and a half ago, he developed severe abdominal pain. Sita visited the local doctors and was treated for acute inflammation of the stomach. But the relief was short lived. Referred to another hospital, he was finally diagnosed with stomach cancer. Unable to pay for medical treatment, he returned to Lalitpur.
Several HBMH volunteers knew of his plight and told the palliative care team about Sita. Visiting him at home, the team encouraged Sita to come to the hospital for pain management. He complied and his pain lessened; meanwhile, Sita and his family became very attached to the palliative care team.
Both the local pastor and the team shared the love of God with Sita. He began to pray and read the Good News. He died shortly thereafter, his pain alleviated and his heart at peace. At his funeral his family also received the Good News and began attending the local church. His wife now works in a Catholic school to support the children and their education. The whole team at HBMH was grateful to have a part in transforming the life of this family.
HBMH Bouncing Back from Lean Years
Built in 1932 as a small mission hospital, Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital (HBMH) grew to a 40-bed facility before being turned over to EHA in the 1970s. This growth continued until HBMH’s services were much sought-after by the people of the nearby communities. The hospital was known for safe deliveries, eye surgery, palliative care, and community-based projects throughout the district.
But in recent years, HBMH went through a rough season and many feared closure was imminent. Down to a threadbare staff and a single doctor, the hospital’s bed occupancy fell to less than three percent. The once well-equipped ophthalmology department with its own operating room and recovery wards stood empty. Deliveries and pediatric care had come to a standstill due to a lack of specialists.
But the local public still had faith in Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital. They knew this was no ordinary hospital, but one that cared for its patients with the love of God, and their trust was not broken.
At the end of 2019, HBMH received a shot in the arm with Dr. Rachel Kumar coming to take over the obstetrics department, and early in 2020 the arrival of husband-and-wife team Dr. Thomas Kurien Bhanu, orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Madhurita Singh, anesthetist specializing in critical care, strengthened the hospital’s services. With the arrival of an intensive care specialist, the High Dependency Unit (similar to an ER) awaits a new beginning, needing updated equipment and additional trained staff.
The staff of HBMH are excited for the possibilities and are praying for new equipment and more staff to bring the hospital back to full functioning. They need monitors, ventilators, and surgical/orthopedic instruments and equipment. If you feel led to donate to this need, please click the button below and choose HBMH in the drop-down list on the donation page.
High Dependency Unit at HBMH
Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital (HBMH) is thrilled to have their High Dependency Unit up and functioning. In June of 2018, Dr. Lesley Ponraj joined the HBMH family as a long-desired Medicine Specialist. Soon after, the hospital received some “seed gifts” to help them begin construction of this emergency care unit.
After some further gifts from Mission Direct and other organizations came in, the construction was completed. EHA’s Lakhnadon Christian hospital loaned the new unit several pieces of needed equipment, including a ventilator, a defibrillator, an arterial blood gas machine, two monitors, and two syringe pumps.
In October the inauguration of the new unit was held, attended by senior government officials, non-governmental partners, and other practitioners from Lalitpur. Meetings such as this help to highlight the scope of the work done at EHA hospitals and to let local officials know that EHA partners with them in caring for the health of the people in the district.
Currently, HBMH is still struggling with low patient numbers in spite of this new facility equipped to deal with acutely ill patients. It is their hope that this new 6-bed high dependency unit will save lives and be a blessing to many in the community.
Saving Two Children in One Family
Reshmi brought her young son into Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital with a heavy heart. She had been told at another hospital that he likely had a terminal case of untreated tuberculosis. The doctor there said that he was too far gone and could only be treated if they gave him 100,000 rupees ($1,400), an exorbitant sum. When the family told him they could not pay, he told them to go to the “mission hospital.”
When the child came to them, the HBMH staff took him on as a challenge. The doctors and nurses treated the boy and stabilized him, and after collecting a fraction of what the other doctor demanded, they sent him home. God was good and the boy was saved.
Several months later, Reshmi came back to HBMH with another “problem.” She was pregnant with her fourth child and she wanted Dr. Sheba to “garbh saaf karo,” or clean out her womb. Medical termination of pregnancy is legal in India until the 20th week. An estimated 15.6 million abortions are carried out in India each year.
Knowing how valuable each life is, Dr. Sheba gently spoke with Reshmi about the small child being formed in her womb. Reshmi listened and decided that she would carry her child to delivery after all. The HBMH staff are thrilled that the little boy who was cured of tuberculosis will have a new little brother or sister soon.
On the Road to Recovery
Suresh could not walk, speak, or hear properly when he was brought into EHA’s Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital. He had been through a horrific accident where he was dragged by a vehicle for some distance, losing much of the skin on his side and thigh. His parents brought him in, desperate for healing for their son. Thankfully, the man who had driven the vehicle in the accident agreed to pay for part of the medical treatment. Otherwise, the parents would have struggled to pay the hospital bills.
After much medical care, Suresh was stabilized and strengthened. As is sometimes the case, one EHA hospital will have a specialist that another one doesn’t have, so in this case, Suresh was sent with Dr. Sujith to Broadwell Christian Hospital for two skin grafts. Suresh’s healing was dramatic, and he is now able to walk. Please pray for this young boy and his parents as they continue to walk on the road to recovery.
Phase Two of Construction Begins
After a generous donation from Mission Direct in the UK, Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital has taken a step of faith to begin adding on two more apartments to the new Thyle Residency. This will bring the occupancy of this facility up to eight families.
The current goal is to lay the slab for the roof and get the walls up around the two new apartments before the rains come in mid June. The same construction team that built the original structure last year is working on the addition. Please pray for safety for the workers and for God to provide the additional funding needed to finish this addition.
Tiny Baby Boy Is Nurtured to Life
She was only seven and a half months pregnant, but her water had broken, she had developed a fever, and her labor pains had begun. Lalitha had first gone to the governmental district hospital, but they sent her away, saying she needed to go to a more advanced facility. She chose to come to EHA’s Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital. The couple seemed resigned to losing their baby and had given up hope. EHA’s medical team agreed to admit Lalitha, but they were not very optimistic about the baby’s chances.
Late that night, a 2-pound baby boy was born, and to everyone’s surprise, he let out a feeble cry. He was alive! He needed oxygen, warmth, fluids, medicine, and a lot of grace. As he stayed in the hospital, his bill continued to climb, and the relatives asked the hospital to release him since his chances were still bleak. But the hospital staff knew that if this tiny baby went home, he would die there, so they talked the couple into leaving the child at the hospital for continued care at no cost to them.
As the days passed, this little boy repeatedly fought for life. The entire medical team prayed and cared for him. At times he would give them a scare and stop breathing, but each time the faithful nurses and doctors would notice and rush to resuscitate him. The staff loved the baby and named him Ashish, which means “blessing” in Hindi.
So far, little Ashish has survived for a month, and he has gained strength and some weight. His parents have come to the hospital to hold him. He is still precariously delicate, but he is a constant reminder that God is working among us.
Bacon Memorial Training Center Opens
New facilities at EHA hospitals always make life easier for the staff. The newly renovated training center at Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital now provides a clean, modern environment for small groups, workshops, meetings, conferences, training programs, and retreats. The center houses a large conference room with an LED projector, several smaller meeting rooms, guestrooms, and a dining room.
Quite a few of the antique furnishings date back to the building’s use by Mrs. Elizabeth Mercy Bacon, who founded the hospital at the turn of the century.
Plans are underway to use the center for classes for the Certificate Program in Palliative Care offered by the Indian Association of Palliative Care, as well as various EHA training sessions.
The Blind Receive Sight
Pukhan, from Jakhaura village, had been blind in one eye for two years. Before cataract surgery, she could detect motion but not see anything clearly. At her follow-up visit a week after surgery, she laughed delightedly as she counted the fingers held up by Suresh, HBMH’s eye technician. Pukhan is one of thousands who struggle with varying degrees of blindness in India. Many suffer from cataracts and have no idea where to go for help or how to afford eye care. One study estimated that there are 15 to 18 million blind people in India.
HBMH has an eye department but no resident ophthalmologist. Suresh does refractions to test eyesight and fit people for glasses as well as check people in the out-patient department for other issues including cataracts. When there is a need for surgery for a number of people, a visiting ophthalmologist comes in for an eye camp. In a typical camp, an amazing 85 people have cataract removal surgery in one week. This life changing procedure brings joy and hope to many who have nowhere else to turn. And sometimes having their physical sight returned to them awakens in them a desire to hear about spiritual sight from the doctors and nurses who treat them in love.
Amazing Healing for 8-Year-Old Girl
She came to the emergency room in the middle of the night suffering from fever, abdominal pain, and distention. Her relatives were encouraged to take her to a hospital with more advanced facilities, but they were unable to afford or handle such a journey. Since Mamta was only eight years old, the doctors at Harriet Benson were especially leery of operating on her, as they didn’t have a trained anesthesiologist. As her condition worsened, they prayed about what to do. Four days into her admission, an anesthesiologist visited the hospital, and they took advantage of this provision and scheduled surgery.
The surgeons opened her abdomen and discovered a perforation in her small intestine which had caused pus and fecal matter to fill her entire abdomen. Worse, tuberculosis had ravaged her intestines. Everyone felt her chances of survival were very low, and the surgeon exclaimed that her recovery would take a miracle.
Surprising everyone, Mamta survived the ordeal of major abdominal surgery and was soon on the path to recovery. Everyone felt this showed divine intervention. Then a setback occurred. Even while on anti-TB medications, the mycobacterium began to cause havoc again. She needed a drain to reduce the fluid in her abdomen as her body began to fight the bacterium. As the days progressed with dressings, antibiotics, and loving care combined with prayers, one miracle followed another and soon Mamta was ready to go home. After two months in the hospital, her subsidized bills were paid by World Vision. All of the staff felt that Mamta’s healing could only have been brought about by God through the faithful, healing hands at Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital.
About Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital
In 1890 the Reformed Episcopal Mission of the United States sent Mrs. Elizabeth M. Bacon to Lalitpur to open a mission station attached to a small hospital and school. Regular medical work began in 1934 with a full-fledged hospital run by dedicated expatriate missionaries for the next four decades. In 1973 the mission turned the management of the hospital over to EHA. Currently, their service priorities include treating women and children, eyecare, and surgery. The hospital serves the Lalitpur district with a population of close to one million, 70 percent of whom live rurally.
Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital offers eye surgery camps in which hundreds of free cataract surgeries are performed each year. Thousands of children have their eyes screened as well. During the free plastic surgery camps, many cleft lips and cleft palates are corrected through surgery.
The hospital also has a palliative care program with a seven-bed ward. In this department they care for terminally ill patients, reducing their pain and helping patients and their families as they deal with illness and eventual death. Many of the patients have cancer, and many are cared for in their homes where they can be among family members as long as possible.
The Lalitpur Community Health and Development Project has several facets. Health camps are organized in various communities and information about personal hygiene, sanitation, and communicable diseases is taught. HIV/AIDS programs regarding stigmas, prevention, and gender sensitization bring about awareness in the communities. Self Help Groups teach members to save their income, become literate, and make use of government programs which benefit them. Eligible people are taught to claim disability certificates, widow certificates, and pensions. As the staff of Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital and the Lalitpur Project reach out to these people with medical care and practical assistance, the door is opened for them to share the good news of God with the lost.