Its benign, Dr. Cherian said. But Theresa was also concerned that the flesh around her reconstructed jaw was sagging. So Dr. Cherian operated and Theresa was recuperating from the surgery, her scar still fresh.
Currently, cancer patients make up less than 10 percent of the patients treated at Green Gardens, which includes not only the general hospital (where cancer patients occupy only one hall) but also an outpatient clinic. Each day hundreds of patients receive treatment at the clinic, another simple concrete structure without air conditioning (like the hospital), where sheets serve as office doors. Here, doctors set broken arms and attend to colds as well as more serious ailments.
But construction is under way on a far more ambitious, and expensive, facility, which will attract many cancer patients from throughout the state, said Sister Michael Francis. With leprosy less of a problem now, we thought about what our role should be, she said. The leprosy patients we treated faced social stigmas and therefore there was a special role for the church to take care of them. Cancer doesnt share the same stigmas. But its expensive to treat, and we feel that its an area where the state hospitals need help.
Under a blazing March sun, workers were digging the foundation for the four-story cancer center. The $750,000 facility is being partly funded by the Assisi Sisters and the government. CNEWA has already committed $100,000 for the construction of the second floor. But the buildings cost is only a small part of the total bill for the facility. The CT scan the center requires also costs $750,000. All told, the facility will house $3 million worth of state-of-the-art cancer treatment equipment. (Currently, the cancer ward of the general hospital makes do with a conventional X-ray machine and an ultrasound unit.) The new facility will serve cancer patients throughout the state.
Those who can afford treatment will pay for it, and those who cant will get it for free, said Sister Michael Francis. She said she expected the breakdown to be half-and-half and generate enough funds to staff the hospital. It seems a difficult arrangement to enforce. If free treatment is being handed out, who will pay voluntarily?
Yes, thats a problem, Sister Michael Francis said. Thats why we will send an accountant to investigate each case, to see if the patients family has the means to pay.
And how would an accountant make that determination? Sister Michael Francis brushed the question aside. The arrangement would work, she said. The important thing was to get the cancer center built, to start treating sick patients, to heal.
Adjacent to the construction site, the old leprosarium dormitory still stands. A few women gathered on the porch. They were being treated for the disease, but they appeared to bear none of its accompanying physical ravages the decaying skin that, for thousands of years, had led to stigmatization and quarantine. They would be treated and sent home, healed. And soon, if the World Health Organization pledge held true, the disease would all but disappear. At Green Gardens, it is time to focus on something else.
Post a Comment |
Paul Wachter is Assistant Editor of ONE magazine.
Tags: India Health Care Funding Socioreligious programs