Friday, July 15, 2016

Azael P. GH A&S'17, Palliative Care Program, Mysore

Azael(center) with fellow GSL students at the SVYM Welcoming Ceremony.

During my time in India I worked under SVYM’s Palliative Care Program situated in Mysore, India. The ultimate goal of my project was to make an overall review of the program and focus on any problems facing the program’s organization, administration and funding. I was to identify and describe the way these problems were being dealt with and provide my own suggestions on how to improve. In order to make a quality assessment I had to experience the program’s work both on and off the field. To accomplish this, I first began my project by accompanying the palliative care team on their daily visits to patients’ homes. While on these trips I would observe the patient’s condition, environment, and their interactions with both the team and their own family. In addition, I would also observe how the team carried out their tasks and any problems that would occur. I carried around a small journal and jot down all of my observations along with any questions or comments that would come up at the time. Most of the conversations would occur in Kannada and so many times the doctors would simply explain to me what was said after we had left the home. During these trips I was able to see first-hand the impact this program was having and how the services were being implemented.
To complement my field visits, I would spend the rest of my time reading, researching palliative care policies and interviewing the palliative care staff. Interviewing the doctors, nurses and the rest of the staff and volunteers proved to be the most helpful. It is unwise to try and assess an organization without talking with and getting the opinion of the employees themselves. I would ask sets of questions including what their role was, what difficulties they have had completing their duties, and what they thought could be done to improve.  I would also go on visits to different hospitals in the Mysore area. This included a corporate hospital, an Ayurveda government hospital, and a public government hospital. Through these visits I was able to get a comprehensive view of the health care background in Mysore which helped put SVYM’s Palliative Care Program in better context.
My experience in India is very hard to put into words. In short, I like to tell people that it was simply amazing. Through my project I was able to learn about the health care system in Mysore and the problems that plague it, learn about the need for palliative care, how to effectively review and report on an organization, and through the patient home visits see so much more than I ever would have as a regular tourist. At the end of my project I was able to create a 13-page report on the program, how it runs, my methods and ultimately outline some of their biggest problems and the ways they are being solved and some of my own personal suggestions. Already feeling accomplished on learning so much, it was even better when I received an email after leaving India from one of the program’s directors telling me that they were already in the process of implementing one of my suggestions.

After going through her medical issues, the palliative care team took the time to sit down and speak with the patient about how she was doing beyond her physical health. She was eager to speak about her passion for sewing and crocheting and the strong family network she had to support her. (This photo is being used by permission of the patient.)

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