Serving the sick
Nana Palkar Smruti Samiti provides free accommodation and food to poor patients from out of Mumbai, Alekh Angre reports
Mumbai with its large hospitals, like Tata Memorial and KEM (King Edward Memorial) providing affordable treatment for critical diseases like cancer, attracts thousands of patients from all over the country. However, accommodation for the duration of hospitalisation for patients and the accompanying family members has been a major problem. It’s not unusual to see scores of people sleeping and cooking in the hospital premises or on pavements outside.
The situation was the same four decades ago. Nana Palkar Smruti Samiti (NPSS), founded in 1968, sought to bridge this gap. It provides free accommodation and food to the patients and their two attendees as well as transportation to hospitals.
NPSS was founded in the memory of late Nanasaheb Palkar, writer, orator and a well-known pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who was also a social crusader with keen interest in patient-care. NPSS started with one room in Parel (mid-town Mumbai). The services of the organisation gained popularity by word of mouth and more patients started seeking the help of NPSS. So, a plot of land was granted by the then municipal commissioner.
In 1997, NPSS got approval to build a 10-storey structure. The building is known as Rugna Seva Sadan. It can accommodate 76 patients and 152 accompanying attendees. At times, there are patients who can afford nominal fees. For them, NPSS charges Rs50 per day for monthly accommodation and Rs25 per meal. “With the help of donations from the public, we strive to give accommodation and other facilities to people who are poor and traumatised by the illness,” says AM Joshi, former secretary and trustee of NPSS.
Patients are given the facilities on obtaining a certificate either from a member of the RSS or the medical social worker of the hospital from where the patient has been referred. “Since patients come from different states, a valid medical/reference certificate is essential. It is a proof that the patient is a genuine one,” explains Mr Joshi. The organisation provides free ambulance service to the patients to take them to hospitals like Tata Memorial, KEM and Sion Hospital and charges Rs5 each to the patient’s attendees. Volunteers of NPSS distribute fruits to TB patients at Sewri Hospital every Thursday. “Since most patients are abandoned, giving them fruits and interacting with them cheers them up. We also distribute free breakfast to 200 children admitted at Wadia hospital everyday.”
NPSS also offers many other facilities. In 2004, NPSS started a dialysis centre with a nominal charge of Rs350. It has 12 haemodialysis machines treating 36 patients a day. Additionally, it also runs a low-cost pathological laboratory and provides free medicine and counselling to TB (tuberculosis) patients, among others. These services are free for poor patients; for others, a nominal fee is charged. NPSS has lithotripsy centres in Matunga (Mumbai) and Aurangabad (Maharashtra), providing treatment at Rs3,500. “The costs of such treatments are high, making it unaffordable for many. So we provide such services at nominal cost,” says Mr Joshi. NPSS gives financial assistance to poor patients undergoing treatment; for this, its monthly budget is Rs1.5 lakh. “The medical social worker of a particular hospital after verifying that the patient genuinely needs financial aid, issues a letter to him/her. Once we receive such a letter, we help the patient,” says Mr Joshi.
NPSS provides and arranges for blood donor registry and blood donation camps every year for major hospitals. It also has a branch in Borivali, where doctors provide medical care at a nominal rate. It hires out equipment like walkers, wheelchairs and water beds on low rent. You can donate to NPSS by way of money, in kind or volunteer your services. All donations are tax exempt under Section 80 (G) of the Income-Tax Act.
NANA PALKAR SMRUTI SAMITI
158, Rugna Seva
Parel, Mumbai 400 012
Tel: 2416 4890/
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