Haven's First Satellite Medical Camp February 2019

Reaching out to a new community, Dr Abhijit Mandal takes charge of the Paediatric Camp 104km away from the Haven Centre

A new venture for Haven took place on Thursday, 7th February, namely "Medical Camp @ Bhatar", based in Burdwan, West Bengal. To reach our destination in time, an early morning start was vital and at 07:30am, two teams set off from opposite directions. Travelling south from Tarapith, the MBCF team, our Manager Gopal, our Physiotherapist Tarok and our Nurse Rita loaded up the MBCF minivan with all medical essentials for the long day ahead. They had 104km to cover in two hours to be in time for the start of the camp, not an easy task when large numbers of slow moving goods lorries make driving conditions difficult, as is the case throughout India.

Accompanying them were Dr Kundu, Deputy Director, HRD at the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (IICP), and five trainee students. This team from the IICP were carrying out a community based rehabilitation programme with our children with disabilities at our centre for the past week. We knew they would be very valuable in helping at the Paediatric Camp as we had been alerted to the large number of children with Cerebral Palsy, (CP), who would be attending. So, we were delighted when they agreed to join in and assist Tarok with all the numerous exercises and physiotherapy.

The second team, made up of Haven members and friends visiting from the UK and MBCF Trustee, Nandita Ghosh, travelled north from Kolkata. They had 102km to cover in two hours and so set off even earlier at 07:00am to make sure everything began on time for the many patients who would be waiting. On arrival, the set up seemed so familiar to us with volunteers at the gate and attendants at tables laid out for patient registration. All of the organisation was carried out by Dhiman Bhattacharya who has been a long time supporter and has always volunteered his help at all of our medical camps. The whole idea of this "Medical Camp @ Bhatar" was Dhiman's who knew of the high incidence of CP and other Paedaitric cases in his home town. And because he has been used to the Haven and MBCF system of running medical camps at our centre, he followed the same familiar method.

Dr Abhijit Mandal, Consultant Paediatrcian, has run numerous Paediatric Camps at the Haven Centre but this was his first time serving the community in Bhatar. With his calm, professional manner he was able to put all of the 67 children at ease during their consultations. Many of the patients showed mild to severe symptoms of CP and Dr Mandal's sensitive, caring approach did much to alleviate the pain and distress that these children invariably suffer from. With his sharp skill of observation he was quickly able to diagnose and recommend the correct course of treatment, bringing great relief to the parents and carers. Dr Mandal was assisted by MBCF Manager, Gopal and Nurse Rita and together they made sure the camp was run most efficiently.

Following their consultations, many of the children were then seen by our Physiotherapist Tarok and special educator from the IICP, Tanushree Das, who was also present. These long sessions involved numerous rehabilitation exercises which instantly brought a great deal of comfort to each child. Tarok showed a lot of skill and with his friendly manner he was very quickly able to bond with each child. This meant he was able to gain their trust so that they allowed him to complete all of the different exercises that were required. The methods were then carefully explained to the parents and carers so they could follow the simple regimes at home. Dr Kundu and the trainees helped with assessment and needs for each individual case and documented all pertinent information so that the families had a full record to take away with them for ongoing care.

"Medical Camp @ Bhatar" was a resounding success thanks to Dhiman and his family members who were wonderful hosts. A superb midday meal was served to everyone and a cultural dance performance lifted the spirits of patients with difficult conditions. All the children and their parents and carers were made to feel comfortable from as soon as they arrived and all throughout the day with tea, coffee and cold drinks and snacks on offer at all times. After a long day, the camp ended at 5pm and the two teams from Tarapith and Kolkata left for their long journey back. A first for Haven, this satellite medical camp proved to be most rewarding and a heartwarming experience for all of us who attended.

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