A ventilator for the Landour Community Hospital

The Landour Community Hospital   | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Paul Hamilton

Five days ago, Priya Kapoor, the editorial director of Roli Books, tweeted out to say that the Landour Community Hospital (LCH), an 80-year-old institution, was fundraising for a ventilator. She appealed especially to those who had “visited and loved Landour”, saying, “Every bit counts.” Landour is a cantonment town near Dehradun in Uttarakhand.

Every bit did count, because donations ranged from ₹95 to ₹1 lakh, to meet the initial target of ₹11 lakh. This was then extended to ₹20 lakh, and then to ₹30 lakh, almost met by 417 supporters.

Binu Thomas had set up the funding campaign for a ventilator at the hospital where her husband, Dr George Clarence works as the head. “It had been on my mind for some time, and then when COVID happened I felt we should have this equipment for our community so no one has to travel to Dehradun,” she says, of the 35-kilometre distance from the hills that can mean an hour’s drive away. “My bhaiyya here, who is from Mussorie, played a vital role in motivating me to do this.”

A psychologist who teaches PSHE (personal, social, emotional health education) in Woodstock School, Binu and her husband came here six years ago from Canada, where they had moved to after stints in a few other places in India. “It’s a small community here,” she says, adding that once she set up the campaign she was not sure what would come of it.

“A friend of mine shared it on the residents’ group and then it began to get amplified.” Priya, who went to the 165-year-old Woodstock School, and whose family owns a house in Landour, says, “Today I consider Landour home more than any other place. It’s a small hillside, and everybody knows everybody. For me, it’s many layers of connection, because my mother, brother, his wife, our cousins, all went to Woodstock, and the hospital was always our port of call, whether we were getting a jab or had a leg broken.”

She and her family spent most of the lockdown in Landour. Last year, when her father needed hospitalisation, she says LCH was a very pleasant experience. “It’s not a fancy hospital, even though they did have a facelift a few years ago, but it’s very clean and it’s run by a staff of dedicated doctors and staff members.”

The Landour Community Hospital

The Landour Community Hospital   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

On the Milaap website, people have left comments to say, “LCH is literally saving lives. Older residents of the cantonment area who wish to spend more time in the hills need it the most…”, and “I have experienced how hard-working and devoted doctors and nurses and staff are at Landour Community Hospital… my gratitude for selfless work by all of them.”

The response to the fund-raiser has “humbled” Dr Clarence and his team in the 35-bedded hospital. “We will try harder now,” he says. “Resources have been a challenge, though the Government has been supportive. A lot of well wishers who walk in encourage us, but COVID has been tough on us because of both structural and functional modifications we have had to make, and to adjust the manpower so we sustain our services.” The lockdown has meant that the number of people coming in has dropped drastically which has had a direct impact on finances.

“A ventilator in the hospital would mean that we don’t have to send patients down to Dehradun when we feel the patient may need ventilation,” he says, because the facility does have an experienced surgeon on board, besides a general physician, and his own orthopaedic expertise.

It is a hospital that serves all: villagers, the business community in and around Landour, those who have summer homes there, and the school. Dr Clarence says he has gone as far as the Har ki Dun Valley, 170 kilometres away, where people still refer to it as American hospital, after the missionaries, led by Dr EJ Robinson, who set it up.

When Munna Singh Panwar, who is from Garhwal and the caretaker of the Kapoor residence in Landour was told about the fund-raiser, he decided to contribute too. “Logon ko phir Dun nahin jana padega. Thoda bahut agar sahyog kar sake tho kyun nahin? (People won’t have to go to Dehradun then. If I can help a little, why not?)”

As Dr Clarence says, “People walked in and said they felt the calm and peace, that the staff was caring and concerned, even though they may have come in for a small thing. This is the way we talk to patients. The work stands as testament.”

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 3:31:49 PM |

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