Dear Friends of Ludhiana – those who have supported the work at the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana for many years, even worked there, and those who have newly heard about this Institution and the UK Charity – Christmas Greetings to you all! I will attempt an update on the past year.
I visited CMCH earlier this year and it was an especially memorable visit as Maralyn (my wife) and I were accompanied by our vicar David, Sally his wife, Nicol our curate and Paul her husband. Our village church has supported CMCH for several years through both prayer and giving and it was a wonderful opportunity for them to see CMCH in action!
On a hot morning, after ‘bed tea’ and then the first curry of the day (!), I attended the Governing Board meeting (the reason for our visit) and the others met up with Rev Alex Peters the Chaplain to accompany the Fellowship Department (Chaplaincy) on the daily corridor prayers. For our new visitors it was amazing to see the willingness of patients’ relatives with different languages, dialects, religions, cultures and customs giving the names of their loved ones to the team so that they could be included in the prayer outside the ward, operating theatre or recovery area. Indeed, prayers were offered outside all the wards and also standing in the middle of the out-patient department. Later in the day, personal visits to individual patients, by the members of the Fellowship Department, were a privilege to observe and hearing stories of great tragedy and illness was very heart-rending.
The next day a visit to Paediatric Surgery unit was a shock. There was thick mould on the ceiling due to condensation from air-conditioning in the operating theatre above, there was only one ventilator (which had seen far better days) on the ward and basic beds, cots and mattresses would be seen as unfit for purpose in the UK. In another part of the hospital, the Cardiology Unit was a complete contrast with a spacious, clean ward containing modern equipment. A patient admitted that morning with chest pain was able to undergo angiography within a few hours – a superior service to much of the NHS. The Bone Marrow Transplant Centre is a much needed recent addition to the services offered by the Hospital. The Gastroenterology Unit has been completely upgraded with funding from Friends of Ludhiana UK and I was able to use the endoscopy equipment to undertake several procedures on patients. We saw the modern Oncology Unit and the room where a Brachytherapy Unit is hopefully soon to be installed (in part funded by Friends of Ludhiana UK).
We visited three outlying hospitals served by CMCH. Lalton Hospital has highly dedicated staff but extremely poor facilities and equipment. In spite of this, the hospital provides invaluable healthcare for the local population. CMCH has recently taken over the management of Bilga Hospital and this is a complete contrast to Lalton – it has modern, clean buildings and is well-equipped but is slightly away from the centre of population and, at the time of our visit, seemed rather underused – there is much potential there for the coming days. Hambran Hospital touched all of our hearts – we were shown around the Maternity Unit by the head doctor despite having been up all night operating on two ladies who required emergency caesarean sections but delivered healthy babies who were ‘ooed’ and ‘aaahed’ over! The Children’s Rehabilitation Centre brought tears to our eyes as we saw the youngsters determinedly doing their appropriate exercises after accidents leaving them with severe limb damage or having suffered neurological damage. The equipment was old and very basic, often made out of pieces of wood and old rope but sometimes, even with tears on their faces, the children gave us big smiles – especially when we gave them the little gifts we had brought them!
After many visits it was good for me to see CMCH through the fresh eyes of our friends, to witness the changes and improvements over the years and to be reminded how special the institution is. It was also good to be reminded that there is still so much that needs to be done. CMCH continues to be a beacon for Jesus in that part of the Punjab and, in spite of financial problems, it strives to maintain its high standards and meet the expectations of the Medical Council of India.
Thank you for your financial support and prayers and may this Season of Christmas bring joy and blessings to you and those you love.