Spending a day with the priest is to witness his skill as a networker and fund-raiser an invaluable asset to the school and its students. Father Matthew travels frequently to lobby wealthy Keralites abroad, as well as international aid agencies, for money for his students.
Bolstered by the success of the school, his efforts have secured funds from a variety of international sources for a new building. Donations from CNEWA, the Italian Bishops Conference, a businessman from Dubai and a local bank, which provided an eight-year loan, have made the new facility a reality. Rising four stories above the areas surrounding coconut trees, the building houses the students dormitories and classrooms, as well as a kitchen and dining room.
The new facility is a welcome addition for the hospital, which depends on the hard work of the student nurses. Founded in 1954, the nonprofit hospital is run by a trust under the patronage of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Bishop of Palai. It serves the public irrespective of caste or creed.
The students spend much of their time at the hospital, especially during the mandatory internship and benefit from their experience with a myriad of departments: general medicine, general surgery, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, orthopedics, ophthalmology, oncology, ear-nose-throat, dermatology, dentistry and physiotherapy. The hospital also boasts an X-ray unit, clinical laboratory and blood bank.
Although not as well equipped as those in the West, the hospital offers excellent service and care. Injured in a motorcycle accident, Mary Kutty attests to the facilitys reputation and skill of its nurses. The hospital and nursing school are fantastic, says Ms. Kutty, herself a nurse for many years at a hospital in Saudi Arabia.
The treatment is first class. The nurses are kind and take care of us very well, she adds. The only problem is funding, but they do brilliantly with what theyve got.
On any given day the hospital sees 250-400 patients many of whom are unable to pay. For some cases we offer treatment free of charge, says Sister Ancy, the hospital supervisor. Certainly in life-saving situations we would treat them regardless. It is part of our Christian duty.
The devotion of the professional staff at the hospital has been critical to its success. In Kerala state hospitals, nurses earn about 5,000 rupees ($110) per month, although in private ones such as Holy Ghost they earn only half that, despite the often superior quality of health care.
Under the guidance of these highly committed and skilled teachers, the poorer student nurses learn a valuable profession that will bring their families out of the poverty that afflicts much of India.
Renimol Jose, 20, is completing her second year. I wanted to be a nurse since I was 15, but it was a struggle for me to afford to come here. My father is a rubber tapper and my mother is sick and cannot work, she says. A sponsor in New York pays my fees.
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