Shibu, bystander extraordinary
A feature of Indian hospitals is that a patient must go with a “bystander”, who will act as a nursing assistant, prepare food, buy medicines, clean them, and fetch a nurse if the patient needs one. If a patient cannot provide a bystander, they are refused admission, however desperate they are. We were alerted to this by Santosh, who was involved in a motor accident and was dumped outside the hospital with severe injuries; he had no bystander and could not move, so he stayed there for some time, and by the time we found him ants were eating at his wounds. We were able to provide a bystander, and he was able, finally, to get treated. Since then we have provided a bystander for many patients. This had the additional advantage of providing employment for someone who would otherwise be destitute. It is a very cost-effective way of enabling people to get the hospital treatment that they need.
Santhosh’s injured leg. It has required many operations.
Kayshevan, our first bystander
A few years ago we became aware that there was a great, unmet need for this sort of support. Many people were being refused medical help because they were unconscious when they were brought in, penniless, or otherwise unable to give account of themselves. We took the decision to employ a full-time bystander – Shibu.
Shibu is a remarkable young man. He has a great concern for people in need, and is completely dedicated to the task of looking after many patients at once. On a recent visit we offered to take him out for a meal; he refused – he wanted to feed his patients. A normal bystander looks after just one person; Shibu looks after anything up to a dozen. No mess is too disgusting for him to clean it up with relish. No wounds are too septic for him to clean and disinfect them. If a patient needs 24/7 care, he will sleep under the patient’s bed. And he does all this for no payment – all we provide is board and lodging, a few clothes, some help for his mother, and the expenses that he incurs for food and other things for the patients.
Shibu with one of his many patients
Another great advantage of having Shibu in the hospital full time is that he acts as a point of contact for those in need for other forms of help. Often a patient must pay for their medicines; if they cannot pay, they do not get the medicines they need. A number of fractures are so complex that they must be pinned; but the patient has to pay for the pins (implants), typically costing something in the range of £30 to £150. If they cannot pay for the materials needed, they are sent home untreated. Often the nurses will alert Shibu to this; he can then contact Tom, who will buy the medicines or implants. Your generosity ensures that the bill is paid.