As I mentioned in a previous post I was able to make a trip to Christian Medical College(CMC), Vellore recently. This is a famous hospital and nmedical school in Tamil Nadhu started by a missionary doctor (Ida Scudder) over 100years ago. It has always had a vision to minister to the poor and suffering and is renowned both in India and internationally for it's excellence in medicine and education but also it's service to the community. Patients still travel from long distances to recieve treatment. As an illustration, I attended an oncology round where 4 out of 16 patients were from Tamil Nadh and another 4 from neighbouring states. The remainder were from distant places like West Bengal, Sikkim, Banglagesh, Assam, Mizoram and Bihar. (you might want an atlas to check these out!)
Palliative care services started 3 years ago and the small department is led by Dr Reena George. The picture shows the rest of the team, and my thanks for their warm welcome. Already there is an active inpatient and outpatient service with home care to the surrounding villages 3 times a week. An exciting new development is the building of a hospice and education unit a few km away. You can see the contruction work in the photo, with an expected opening date of August 2006. We had some great discussions as to the development of CMC as an educational hub for palliative care. It is well placed to offer an excellent and credible training base that can reach many areas where palliative care is in it's infancy. I am delighted to say we have agreed a joint project to support these developments and I will be dicussing these plans with the Cairdeas Trustees soon. As ever issues of practicalities and finance come into the equation but am optomistic that we will be able to proceed.