Today I went to Vimala Centre in Versova, a Leprosy Hospital specializing in inpatient care. This hospital was an example of vertical integration, as the care given was Leprosy-specific and patients with ulcers or disabilities stayed in the hospital for continuous treatment. This visit made me even more grateful for choosing to intern at Bombay Leprosy Project, and showed me the difference between Leprosy NGOs.
Vimala’s facilities were a lot nicer, as the complex was huge compared to BLP’s facilities. Most of the patients in Vimala had Grade II deformities, significantly more than those at BLP. When I asked about ulcer and disability care, the employees told me that they were only offered as part of inpatient care. This showed me the emphasis that BLP put on preventative and self-care.
The second part of my visit consisted of visiting the inpatient rooms. This visit made me extremely solemn, as I saw at least five beds crammed in one room. Many of the patients were missing limbs and had deep ulcers. While some were grateful for the care they were getting, others were extremely sad. One moment that I remember extremely well was when I entered a room and I noticed a patient curled up and shaking. While all the others seemed to welcome our visit, the man was curled up on his bed shaking. Because at BLP, I am able to interact with patients, even with a communication barrier, I tried to approach the man. However, the man turned away whimpering. This interaction prompted me to ask the employee about psychological services, in which she told me that there were none.
The inpatient rooms seemed very lonely, as none of the patients I saw had visitors. Instead, they were surrounded by reminders of the disease they had. This made me realize that the integration of Leprosy care into the General Health System was a good thing, as it helped get rid of the stigma towards the disease.
Overall, my visit to Vimala Centre was an informative one, as it showed me another approach towards the treatment of Leprosy. Vimala Centre stressed immediate care of the patient, while BLP stressed both immediate and preventative care of the patient.