At a time when government doctors in State-run medical colleges are drawing flak for reasons other than health issues, a group of doctors from the Alappuzha Medical College Hospital are setting an example by taking healthcare from hospitals to the community.
‘Sasneham’ (With Love), an initiative that began in 2006 with sporadic one-day camps for senior citizens at various spots in the Ambalappuzha Block Panchayat now has a room of its own near the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple and draws up to 170 participants, all aged above 60, when it opens on the last Friday of every month.
Run with support from the Medical College Community Medicine Department, the three-tier panchayat system in the locality and the Alappuzha Municipality, ‘Sasneham’, according to R.S. Nisha, Associate
Professor with the Community Medicine department, stands out because it is the only one of its kind in the district. Though there are similar clinics in a couple of other districts, they are attached to hospitals.
“The unique feature of ‘Sasneham’ is that it runs independently and goes to the patients without the elderly having to come all the way to the hospital. It is also not restricted to allopathy, because we have ayurveda and naturopathy experts among others coming once in a while to help our patients,” says Dr. Nisha.
Regular checkups, classes on diabetes and tips to tackle other lifestyle/age-related ailments, visits by ophthalmologists, orthopaedicians, physiotherapists and even mental health experts to help the aged cope with their health issues are part of the clinic.
“There are many senior citizens who require assistance to overcome the depression and loneliness that old age brings along. Though hospitals have geriatric wings, more personalised attention is required. That’s what we offer here. They can also meet up with friends, form peer groups and do away with their dependency feelings,” she says.
‘Sasneham’ is now all set to go a step further. A Health Card, which will have all health history and treatment details and which the senior citizens can carry around, is being planned in association with the Pensioner’s Union. A survey on all senior citizens, which will include a census, health status and economic dependency details among others, will also be conducted shortly in the Ambalappuzha region.
This, according to Dr. Nisha, will help in adopting a more planned approach to geriatric care.