Specialist Treatment and Health Care
In Nepal, people with health conditions such as leprosy, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and other disabilities are often seen as cursed and may be actively excluded from society.
INF runs three hospitals with teams of medics from Nepal, and around the world. There is also a medical and surgical outreach programme [traditionally known as camps]. This takes specialist treatment to areas where the Nepali government is only able to provide limited facilities.
The three INF hospitals are run under the banner of The Shining Hospital. The largest is The Shining Hospital Green Pastures. This is in Pokhara, one of the largest cities in Nepal. The others are The Shining Hospital Banke [in the border town of Nepalgunj] and The Shining Hospital Surkhet.
The goal of INF's Health Care
The goal is for The Shining Hospital to be a Christ-centred centre of excellence for patients with the “cursed diseases” described above. It will be a leading example of best practice in patient care and become a training centre for doctors to learn about medical care in the light of a Christian ethos.
Green Pastures was begun as a leprosy hospital in the 1950s. But its work now also includes the treatment of people with other disabilities, especially spinal cord injuries. After the earthquakes of 2015, some of the old buildings were no longer fit for patients. As part of a long-term development, the hospital has undergone major restoration and renovation during the past year. Now it has some of the best equipped facilities in western Nepal. The hospital's Ear Centre is acquiring a reputation as a specialist training centre in Nepal.
Green Pastures Hospital has an experienced team of surgeons, medics, and nurses. There are also counsellors, physiotherapists and makers of orthopaedic appliances. Each artificial limb, brace, or mobility device is custom-made for the person who needs it. The hospital is also at the forefront of developing palliative care in the country and has a dedicated palliative care nurse.
No one turned away
Patients with disabilities are often very poor and medical care is rarely free. The aim is that our Poor Fund will mean that no one will be turned away because they cannot afford to pay. At the moment the hospital is reliant on external funding. But the ambition is that, with various income generation schemes, it can reduce its dependence on Western donors. The Green Pastures farm, coffee shop, and pharmacy are providing some income. But INF's visionary leaders are looking for other innovative ways to provide financial support for the hospital.
It is hoped that within two years Green Pastures will have grown from 70 to 100 beds.
Banke and Surkhet
The Shining Hospital branches in Banke and Surkhet primarily treat people with leprosy and disabilities. Staff help patients to get specialist support so they can improve their mobility, manage their own conditions and return home to their families.
Between them, Banke and Surkhet saw around 14,000 outpatients last year. 300 people were admitted to the hospitals.
As well as providing care through its own clinics, INF also supports Government health services in other hospitals. In Nepalgunj, our partner organisation SSS, a small group of Christian Nepalis, provide support for patients of Bheri Zonal Hospital and their families.
INF’s gynaecologist works at the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Surkhet. A dedicated centre to treat women with obstetric fistula is being built and it is hoped that the first patients will be seen in April 2018. Once the fistula centre is established, and Nepali specialist surgeons have been trained, INF will hand it over to the Nepali Government.
Above: The Shining Hospital Green Pastures has undergone refurbishment to bring it up to date.
Below: The Shining Hospital has three locations in the western half of Nepal.
Health and life restored
Health care is not usually free in Nepal. Even the cost of travelling to the nearest hospital can be prohibitive for people scraping together a meagre living on the land. Life can be very hard, especially in the remoter regions. Traditional beliefs and practices may not encourage people to seek medical help.
Kalpana was married at 14 and became pregnant at 17. She endured seven days of labour before her child was stillborn. As a result she was left with a tear in her bladder, an obstetric fistula, which left her constantly wet and leaking urine. This condition is almost unheard of in the West because of the care given to women in labour. Sadly, stories like Kalpana's are all too common in Nepal.
Kalpana was regarded as an outcast by her family and community. Her husband divorced her and remarried. She now farms a small piece of land and has a cow and an ox. To earn extra money she carries heavy loads, often more than her own bodyweight.
Thanks to Dil, an INF nurse who visits local health posts, Kalpana heard about the Obstetric Fistula Camp. This is run each year by Shirley, our gynaecologist. The camp was held in an unused building in the grounds of the government hospital in Surkhet. Kalpana was one of 37 women who travelled there for fistula repair surgery.
Kalpana had already been to two previous camps, but operations had been unsuccessful. However, she did not give up hope and returned for a third year. This time the procedure worked and Kalpana returned home to a new life, no longer smelling or leaking urine.