Paediatric CP, Gynaecology, Orthopaedics, Dermatology, Paediatrics, General Medicine Camps December 2019

Haven's New Wave Rolls In

On Sunday 1st December 2019, the Haven Centre witnessed the next generation step up in all manner of ways, each playing their part to ensure the smooth management of a challenging day ahead involving six medical camps running all at once. The Haven Academy, established in 2016, provides educational technology to a large number of students who attend regular classes several times a week. In addition, thanks to careful guidance and leadership, the students have become part of the Haven-MBCF team and have always been willing to volunteer their help during our past medical camps. We were all very proud when Academy Co-ordinator, Mithun Keshri, awarded certifcates of completion to his graduating class and we wish them every success for the future.

Planning for our medical camps takes place well in advance and we were more than aware that a new group of volunteers would be needed to take over from our Academy graduates. So, a Haven member arrived early from the UK to meet the new Academy students with a view to inspire and encourage them to become part of the camp team. With hundreds of patients expected on the day, it was vital to get the new recruits fully trained so that the whole camp would run in an organised way. But, how to get this done was going to take some lateral thinking, as all 25 new entrants were very young, from just 10 to 13 years old. Whatever the method was, it had to be fun! And it certainly was, with every staff member of MBCF play-acting a great variety of roles as patients queing outside the gates to the centre: some with difficulty walking; some carrying pretend babies and children; some very confused and even some who walked past and ignored the tables set up for name registration.

We wanted to give the new volunteers as many difficult experiences as we could so that they would be fully prepared for all eventualities on the day of the camp. There was a lot of giggling and laughing from the young volunteers on seeing their teacher and other staff having to act parts. Throughout this "dry run" the volunteers were given their roles, whether it was as guides, or to marshall queues for specific camps, or to assist camp managers, or to carry and serve refreshments to patients and doctors. By the end of the training, each student knew where to stand and what job they were going to be responsible for on the big day. The whole venture became so enjoyable for all that, not only were the young volunteers filled with curiosity and enthusiasm for the actual day, they and the MBCF staff wanted more practice. In the end, we managed three "dry runs" in the week before the camp and the staff even brought along home made props to accompany their acting roles!

It wasn't only the next generation of volunteers who stepped up to the task; the Haven Medics team saw their youngest members take charge of four out of the six camps held on the day. Impressing their elders, Dr Megha Dutta, Dr Mahua Bhaduri, Dr Tania Bhaduri and Dr Ben Goodman, all visiting from the UK, proved to be highly capable physicians ensuring their patients received excellent care throughout the day.

Dr Megha Dutta, on her second visit to Atla, took on a prominent role in the running of the Paediatric Cerebral Palsy (CP) Camp. She was accompanied by her father, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Atanu Dutta, who has become a regular feature at the Haven Centre. This was his fifth visit to support Haven's work on the ground and clearly demonstrates his enduring commitment to our cause.

This camp was always going to be an emotionally draining one, with distressed parents arriving with so much hope that the clinicians would be able to identify the cause for their child's discomfort and then determine a treatment approach that will restore their quality of life. With constant equanimity and reassuring self-command, the two clinicians provided exceptional care for each of their 32 patients and their families. So much so that the parents left knowing they had been given all available guidance for the ongoing management of their child's condition. Ably assisted by our physiotherapist Tarok Kundu and MBCF volunteer Dhiman Bhattacharya, the Paediatric CP Camp was run smoothly with just 4 referrals, 3 of which were for MRI scans. Albeit a difficult day, there were heart-warming successes, particularly among the children with CP, who we've been caring for since they were very young. These did a great deal to lift the spirits of everyone involved.

Dr Mahua Bhaduri, on her second visit to our centre, single handedly took charge of the Gynaecology Camp and, with her sensitive, professional manner, helped put every one of the 40 patients at ease. Dr Bhaduri's gentle approach and solicitous care for the patients was seen in the calm showed by the women as they spent time in her consulting room. Arriving with some trepidation, most of the patients left with smiles and a new found sense of relief and comfort. There were three cases put forward for referral and Haven will ensure that all necessary tests and treatments will be carried out at the earliest and all follow-ups closely monitored.

It had been two years since an Orthopaedic Camp was held at the centre and, as a result, this 2019 Orthopaedic Camp was one of the busiest on the day with around 100 patients expected. Orthopaedics is one of the most essentially required specialisms simlply because the majority of patients who attend our camps are field labourers. They have to toil for long hours in the paddy fields on a daily basis, an activity that requires back-breaking physical effort. So, we were delighted when two eminent consultants, based in the UK, offered their expertise to run this year's camp.

Making their very first visit to the Haven Centre, and with the huge patient load, Dr Hirok Haldar and Dr Subroto Chatterjee certainly had their work cut out. It soon became apparent to us all that they were both more than able and the Orthopaedics Camp was run in an effective manner. Each clinician took on half the patient load so that two Orthopaedic Camps ran concurrently. This meant far shorter waiting times for the many villagers who had travelled long distances, some through the night, to see a specialist, which in itself is a rare chance in the depths of rural Bengal. With his excellent diagnostic skills, Dr Haldar served each of his patients with sound practical advice with the view to completely alleviating their ailments. Thanks to his logical and rational approach, the villagers found his instructions and guidance simple to follow and understand. Many of the patients commented on how informed they felt after their consultations and also how relieved that there was a way for them to manage their condition. Dr Haldar's superb patient care spoke volumes of his work ethics and we felt lucky to have him on board.

Having served in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Civilian Consultant in Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery, Dr Subroto Chatterjee handled this very busy camp with great composure. During his post as Consultant in West Wales General Hospital, within the Hywel Dda University Health Board, Dr Chatterjee realised his special interests in lower limb reconstruction and trauma surgery. He has been involved in teaching and chairing national and international basic and advanced courses in fracture surgery. In addition, Dr Chatterjee is passionate about global health and has recently passed The Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) examination from Liverpool with distincion. This respected qualification tests the knowledge of physicians who wish to practice medicine effectively in developing countries. Dr Chatterjee's patients on the day were indeed fortunate to receive care of the highest order from such an esteemed physician. In all, there were 8 referrals from the combined Orthopaedic Camp and Haven will ensure all the necessary tests and treatments are completed without delay.

Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Rajat Sarkar, originally from Atla, has strong ties to the local community. On his previous visits to our centre, to save Haven and MBCF from other costs, he had insisted on bringing his donation of all medications that would be issued to patients. On this, his third visit, his amazingly generous donation was so huge that an entire shelf unit had to be emptied of all learning centre equipment just to hold all the medications. One of our large classrooms was converted into a chamber for the Dermatology Camp as demand for this camp was high with over 75 patients registered. Thankfully, as a result of his many years of experience, Dr Sarkar had brought along two of his own staff to dispense the medications and to help patients understand how to administer their treatments. This generous gesture saved us huge costs and lessened the considerable patient queues at our Pharmacy, which runs continuously throughout all of our camps. Despite being exceptionally busy, Dr Sarkar's calm professionalism allowed the Dermatology Camp to run most effectively and his considerable knowledge meant the patients received the highest levels of care and treatment.

Dr Tania Bhaduri, one of the next generation of young doctors, on her second visit to the centre, took on a leading part in the running of the Paediatric Camp. She was accompanied by Dr Abhijit Mondal, who was making his fifth visit and by her father, Consultant Paediatrician Professor Bimal Bhaduri. Our veteran and the Head of Haven's Medical Panel, Prof Bhaduri was returning for an impressive 9th time to, not only help with the running of the Paediatric Camp, but also to oversee the other camps. With over 70 very ill children waiting with their families and carers from the early hours of dawn, it was vital that the Paediatric Camp ran smoothly. And, thanks to the clinicians' outstanding diagnostic skills, it most certainly did. The three paediatricians demonstrated extraordinary levels of care and their gentle, comforting manner helped to soothe the children during their consultations. This meant that each patient was able to receive the much needed expert intervention to aid their recovery. There were 8 cases put forward for referral and Haven has already started the necessary follow ups.

Dr Ben Goodman and Dr Aditi Sengupta, both making their first visit to the Haven Centre, took charge of the General Medicine Camp on the day. It was clear to see that patient care was at the top of the two physicians' priority list. Despite the large number of patients, 70 in all, who had been waiting from the early hours of dawn, the doctors remained highy focussed throughout and afforded every patient with time and careful consideration. Their attentive approach was greatly appreciated by the patients and many commented on how well they had been looked after. This amazing duo were untiring in their work serving all their patients with the highest standards of patient care.

As always, the day was punctuated by a breathtaking cultural show, which was all tied into our camp theme, "Health is Wealth". The show provided a much needed midday break and lifted the spirits of patients with difficult conditions, and doctors who had worked incredibly hard all morning. With a brighter atmosphere, all participants of the camps were ready for a hearty midday meal, which was kindly sponsored this time by Mrs Mallika and Professor Bimal Bhaduri. The rooftop lunch ensured that everyone, especially waiting patients and their families, were well-fed for the busy afternoon ahead.

Haven would like to extend sincere thanks to the entire medical team for their dilligence and commitment and whose time has already changed the lives of the people Haven helps. A special note of thanks to the many new young volunteers who, on their very first time, did a superb job enabling the entire day to run smoothly. Our biggest thanks must, and always, go to our loyal partners on the ground, MBCF. Their continued dedication and support allow Haven to go on with essential work in the depths of rural West Bengal.

More wonderful images of the camps in action













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