Monday, June 14, 2010

Island Trust's Community Care Centre for HIV/AIDS infected people

On Thursday, 10 June, Dr. Sheila and I went to Island Trust’s Community Care Centre in Ooty, a center for people suffering from HIV and AIDS.  A doctor sees these people at the center, and some of them live there or spend several days at a time for treatment.  The regular doctor was away, so Sheila came to fill in.  I drove her there (but that’s another story).

Jerald Anand and Dr. Sheila at the front door of the center
Mrs. Puwaneswari Packianathan, the Counselor (and backbone of the Centre)
Jerald Anand, Coordinator
Mrs. Packianathan in the Counselor's office
Some of the stats
Since most of the patients are day laborers, when they have to spend overnights at the center, they don't eat until they go back to work and get paid.  So, when they leave the center, Mrs. Packianathan gives them one of these bags, containing lentils, beans, rice, millet, etc.  She also provides transportation money, backpacks, and sometimes books for their children.  She also cooks greens for them.

The funding for the clinic comes from the government agency, TANSACS, Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society.  Anything not covered by those funds, the staff tries to solicit from individuals - like cataract surgeries, cardiac surgeries, any treatments outside their funding.

The center has two floors.  The ground floor is reception, counseling office, etc.  The upstairs is the residential care part.  While we were there, two young women came and met with the coordinator.  One thing that is common in the rural villages is that the infected wife gets thrown out of the village to fend for herself.  Mind you, her husband has infected her and has been sick for years or may have died.  But SHE gets thrown out because somehow they reason that she has been unfaithful to her husband and is therefore a slut.  Needless to say, they have absolutely no clue about HIV and AIDS.  So, Dr. Sheila can do outreach and education in Badaga (tribal) villages since she is a doctor and she speaks Badaga.

There are no pictures here of patients for privacy reasons.  The patients staying at the center are incredibly sick and ematiated, since they don't get diagnosed until they are extremely sick.  One woman's husband had died 17 years earlier, she had been so sick for the last ten years she took her 12-year-old daughter out of school so she could go to work supporting the family.  She works construction which means she carries pans of rocks and dirt on her head to the men on the construction sites.  She was there looking after her mother. 

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