Kasturba Hospital and the Yoga Center
The five of us got to tour Kasturba Hospital in Manipal. The hospital is huge. It has 2250 beds (MGH is 950 to give you a comparison) and 24 ICUs. The hallways and registration areas are VERY crowded, dark, and dirty. Certain ramps had laundry hanging from the railings. Although they are technically not allowed to, many families sleep here.
We toured several of the ICUs, an outpatient dialysis unit, and several of the general medical wards. About 80-90% of the dialysis patients are diabetics. This is a major medical problem in India. We were surprised to find the ICUs were in MUCH better condition than the rest of the hospital. These are the only units in the hospital that are air-conditioned. For sanitation purposes, we had to remove our own shoes before entering, and put on flip-flops that were provided to us…flip-flops that are shared between staff/visitors. We all sort of cringed the first time, but had to quickly get over it.
The general medical wards vary, depending on what patients can afford. The lowest level medical ward cost about 30 rupees/day, which is roughly 50 cents! These wards hold 7-10 beds/room. They are very crowded and stuffy. The highest level cost about 2000-3000 rupees/day, (~32-48 dollars). These are private rooms that are MUCH bigger, brighter, and cleaner. We were all struck by the different extremes of the rooms.
We also got to meet one patient in the post-op ICU who had just undergone surgery for the motorcycle accident he was in. Considering what had happened, this man was in exceptionally high spirits. Our professor, Elissa Ladd, pointed out that Indians are often extremely fatalistic due to their faith.
We’ve also had the opportunity to visit the Yoga Center, which is located in Kasturba Hospital. Several doctors, who have masters and doctorate level degrees in yoga therapy, run the center. We were all surprised to learn that yoga is used as much more than a form of relaxation, it is actually used as therapy. Most of us were used to thinking of it as a form of exercise.
Clients come to the center to gain relief from a variety of different disorders and chronic conditions, such as headaches, depression, sinusitis, primary hypertension, and back pain. Or they may simply come to learn how to meditate. We were educated that this is a highly individualized approach. Patients are encouraged to come to the Yoga Center for at least 10-15 sessions in order to gain the maximal benefit. They can walk in ad-lib and payment is flexible; also something that differs significantly from the U.S.