Sacred Heart Palliative Care, silently taking care of the terminally ill

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by Himakshi Thakuriya

We always talk about old age home where elderly people are taken care of but are these homes enough of taking care of those who are unable to walk or even have their own food after a certain age of time or when they are too ill to take care of themselves?

There is not much answer.  The situation gets further complicated when one tries to make the pain of their terminally ill near dear one’s final journey little less painful.

This is Palliative care and Assam or even India is known for a great shortage of that. But tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the Guwahati city, at the outskirts of the city, lies a Palliative Care centre, which takes in the patient when the old age home and relative surrender.

Sacred Heart Palliative Care Centre is an institution whose vision is mainly to take care of advanced terminally ill patients. Being entirely a non-governmental organization, this is run by the Sisters of Sacred Heart Congregation. Located at 9th Mile, Guwahati, this centre is neither a hospital nor a home. But it offers both: hospital care with the love of a home.

It provides medical assistance to the terminally ill patients help the physically challenged, pain relief and psychological support for bedridden patients, day care services, encouraging the patients to do some work to keep their minds occupied, spiritual support system, take care of untreatable terminal cases and also awareness programmes, said sister Rosa Marina, in charge of the Centre.

The centre currently has 12 patients who have the capacity of 40 beds.

The administrator of this centre, Sister Rose Marina sacrificed her whole life in this vision. She said, “It has been 45 years since I’ve stepped into Assam. I’ve been doing this job since I was 18 years old. This is via free will and I am working having faith upon Jesus.”

Sacred Heart
Sister Rose Marina while taking care of a patient

While interacting with this correspondent of Pratidin Time, a patient of this centre named Upamanyu Baruah, who is holding some mental disorder said, “Currently I am holding four top posts, President of India, Prime Minister of India, Chief Minister of Assam and also the Police Commissioner.” Though his age is about 53 years, his behavior is totally childlike.

Every person in this centre has their own personal story. Robert, a young boy met with an accident while he was on his duty has lost the support of his legs. After being treated with the initial treatment he was referred to this centre in 2014. Since then, he is looking after other patients although he himself is disabled. He now has the responsibility of other patients of his ward.

Sacred Heart Palliative Care Centre hasn’t got any government grant or privilege of the scheme. Now it consists of four sisters, including Rose Marina and 7 working staff members. Last year they received a grant from Catholic Health Association of India.

This centre is running with the help of money which they get from some families of patients. They charge Rs 500 per day of stay as they take care of every care from food, hygiene to basic medical service. The family have to support with clothes and medicine. They also give support to patients who are financially weak and try to give free aid. 10% of the sister’s income is kept for the poor and welfare activities.

The Centre maintains a strict low profile, unlike some who makes a lot of hullabaloo in the media and is completely devoted to taking care of the patients slowly. 

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