We've officially given the project a name and a logo. We call her Her Clinic. The clinic location is being scouted now and as soon as that is confirmed we are ready to begin. With help from our local community partner the Center for Integrated Rural Development and our health partner, Helping Hands Hospital in Kathmandu, we've started shopping for the medical equipment and interviewing nurses and midwives. Our current time-table is to be open and operational by the end of October, 2013. In addition to full time nursing staff at the clinic, Helping Hands Hospital will be sending an OBGYN doctor to visit on a regular basis each month.
We are starting a new clinic. Well, it's not a totally new clinic, it's more of an expansion of an existing one. Right now in the town of Madavbesi, which is the nearest town to our farming project known as "Her Farm" (see also on GlobalGiving) a local NGO has a small clinic. Started with some USAID funding the clinic targets sex trade workers for HIV screening, STD screening and counseling services. As Madavbesi is on the main East-West highway that links India and Nepal, there's a fair amount of sex workers in this area. Drivers stop for the night in small lodges along the highway where the working girls practice their trade, a trade that for most is an economic necessity, not a real choice of lifestyle. Needless to say, these places are ripe for the spread of STD's and HIV, which lead to the establishment of the clinic.
The Mountain Fund is now a partner with this clinic to expand the services offered to include complete medical care for women, not just screening for STD and HIV but full-service health care for the women who visit the clinic. We are investing in an expanded supply of both equipment and medicines needed to offer full health care for women. A hospital in Kathmandu has also agreed to send an OBGYN specialist to the clinic once a week. Hope to have some photos for you soon. Meanwhile I am attaching a photo taken from in front of a show and a lodge in Madavbesi.
This project will undergo some major changes in the next 30 days. After ten years of starting and operating health clinics in the Rasuwa District of Nepal, we will be transitioning management of our clinics to local control. There comes a time in every project's life-cycle when it is time for donors to exit and allow local communities to go forward on their own and that time has arrived. Clinics and hosptials we've started in the past decade will be under local control.
That does not mean that Mountain Fund is getting out of healthcare for villages. We will now be working with Helping Hands Hosptial instead. This is a nonprofit hospital and the cheapest hospital in Kathmandu with full-services and all hosptial facilities including ICU, Surgical Theatre and more. 80% of the patients are from the same rural areas where our health clinics are located and we've been referring patients to this hospital for years now.
Founded by Dr. Gupta Shrestha five years ago, Helping Hands has seen over 250,000 patients and averages 200 a day. The villagers all come here for medical services that we cannot provide in rural settings. Every year Helping Hands provides $30,000 of free, or discounted services to the poor who need lifesaving care and cannot pay for. Our new health mission is to help the hosptial continue to provide that care and expand it's ability to give free or discounted services when it's needed.
We've seen first hand patients treated in the ER, in the surgical unit and the ICU who would have died without treatment and cannot pay for the treatment that saved them. We've seen a boy from a poor, rural family get free sugery to reset a broken leg that had been broken years earlier and caused the boy to be a cripple. He's walking find now thanks to the hospital.
So, our rural medicine program is shifting directions and supporting more complicated care for villagers. We hope you'll stay with us and support us in the transition.
We've been approached by a community group in the Kavre District of Nepal who is requesting our help. Called the Indrawatee Community Service Center, it's a full community center for the village with a small hospital as a part of the center. Recently, the doctor has left the hospital for employment elsewhere and the committee in charge of the facility is struggling to keep it going. Doctors in Nepal often function as the administrators in addition to their medical work. We've been sending volunteer doctors out to assist them, so far four in all, two from the US and two from Denmark. The community has specifically asked us for help to add some living quarters at the hospital so there's a place for visiting health professionals to live when volunteering there.
Mountain Fund and Mountain Volunteer Nepal host about 100 volunteers to Nepal each year, many of them are doctors, nurses and P.A.'s so we have a steady stream of people we can send out to help in the hospital but lack facilities to house them in. For the recent volunteers we were able to secure rooms in a house belonging to another NGO who is working in the village but that NGO is soon leaving and we don't know what will become of the house and if we will be able to use it in the future.
As we move toward increased assistance to this hospital, the ability to send our medical volunteers to work there is one key step toward developing the full potential of the place. There's already a lab, pharmacy and xray in place and the hospital has both in-patient and out-patient services for the 40 some people who come there each day seeking health care.
My friend Jagat has been asking for help with the construction of a clinic in his home village of Khumari which is located in the Nuwokot district of Nepal. I felt bad that we haven't been able to contribute to the construction costs thus far so when a group of 12 medical school students and their professors from Rocky Vista Medical College in Colorado contacted me about coming to Nepal and helping in a rural village I jumped at the chance to help in Jagat's village.
Following five hours of bouncing and bumping our way down a dirt road in four-wheel drive vehicles we arrived at the clinic site in Khumari. Seemingly, the entire village turned out to welcome us replete with a group of musicians and the entire student body from the local school. What an entrance !
The first day of our health camp saw long lines and steady stream of local villagers. Our intrepid doctors had to put in overtime to see them all. That night a storm moved in and doused our tents, which were pitched in the front yard of the yet to be completed clinic, all night long. The next morning we woke to drizzle and near zero visibility as the fog had moved in.
In spite of the weather day two was again a busy day and we finished the last patients as the sun went down. In all we'd seen approximately 350 patients over the course of this two day camp. The clinic building we worked in is built to the extent that the walls are all up, the roof is on and exam, lab and pharmacy rooms have been partitioned. There were no windows or doors yet so we rigged sheets over the openings to keep the cold out which worked a little, though it was still quite chilly on day two. I hope to return to this village and help see this clinic finished and staffed in the future.
This was only the second time, by-the-way, that this community had ever had a doctor visit. The health condition of many of the people showed the lack of medical care they've had in the past. Until more clinics can be built, like the one now under construction in Khumari, The Mountain Fund will continue to bring groups of doctors and provide what we can for health care during our camps.
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