In Nepal, proper medical facilities and services are centralized in the capital Kathmandu. As such, most patients from all around the country are referred to Kathmandu leaving many poor patients unable to manage accommodation during their treatment. Hence they are left with no option but to temporarily reside within the hospital compound itself, public waiting rooms or even the surrounding streets. In addition they encounter many other challenges as:
Inability to locate and meet doctors in the specific field of the patient´s health condition.
Inability to access public funds to reduce the cost of treatment.
Inability to communicate the need of treatment covered by government funds.
The Nepalese Government has always subsidized poor patients with free and minimal cost treatments. But it does not supply the provision of safe stay during the treatment of such poor patients at risk. They are consequently bound to reside temporarily in the hospital compound or other public places.
In such circumstances, BAS built “Aarogya Patient Shelter” in Kathmandu and initiated a system of accommodating patients at risk. BAS also acts as a care person for those with no attendants, who otherwise, due to the system, would not get treatment in the hospitals.
As of 2010, BAS is now the legal guardian of 6 mentally and physically disabled children, aged from 4 to 14. These children were abandoned by their parents at different hospitals at birth or at a young age. They now permanently stay at the shelter. BAS volunteers and other patients at the shelter take care of the children; feeding, bathing, changing and playing with them. When possible BAS provides physical therapy for the children, with the help of specially trained volunteers.
The main and general daily activities of the shelter are as follows:
Managing the shelter for disadvantaged and abandoned patients before, during and after their treatment.
Acting as a care person for those needing help.
Providing food for patients lodging at the shelter.
Transporting those patients in need, to and from the hospital.
Coordinating the right treatment and post-treatment specific to the patient, including those who are abandoned during the course of their treatment.
Providing medical supplies for those patients that are in special need.
Providing physical therapy for patients, especially those suffering from cerebral palsy.
Coordinating education for the children who have been forced to discontinue their studies due to the length of their stay for treatment.
Acting as the guardian for the children who are patients at the shelter.
Providing skills for self-empowerment for the patients staying at the shelter for an extended period of time.
Managing the cremation rituals for deceased patients of the shelter home.
At the shelter, BAS practices equal rights, kindness, sharing, helping each other and the power of positive thinking. Everybody live as a big family, dividing daily chores amongst one other. For children, the focus is also on making their everyday lives as normal as possible. This might include studying, playing together or drawing. One important way of developing self empowerment is by teaching various skills to long term patients. In this way, BAS enables and encourages individuals to become self-reliant, through learning skills which enable individuals to start producing their own products and services on a small scale, in order to build up their lives again.
BAS seeks to be the voice of those needing medical help who are not aware of their rights, due to a failure in understanding how the system works.
Apart from Kathmandu, Chitwan also offers sufficient access to proper medical facilities. A lot of people from other districts thus travel to Chitwan for medical treatment. Patients who cannot afford to stay at a lodge to continue their treatment usually abandon their treatment halfway through to return back home.
In the future, BAS aims to expand its facilities to build a patient shelter in Chitwan close by to the district hospital to accommodate patients who are unable to afford the stay of their own treatment. BAS believes that if it can build a shelter for the patients in Chitwan, many patients would be able to complete their full treatment, without having to reside on the streets or in the hospital compounds.