Located in Royapuram, CSI Rainy is, as the hospital’s director puts it, “a private institution where people are sure they can receive individualised attention and care and avoid the long queues of government hospitals, at rates significantly lower than the norm elsewhere.” The hospital has been one of the earliest institutions to work with REACH and allow us a DOTS centre on their premises.
The DOTS centre is a small, somewhat cramped space, but it serves its purpose well – an area just below a staircase with dusty, metal checkered grills, fitted in with a cupboard, and a utilitarian table and chair for our social worker, Mrs Dheena. A standing rotatable fan stands right next to her. She tells me a little about her work hours, and is matter-of-fact about her daily routine as a counsellor and DOTS provider. Then, she starts sifting through a sheaf of charts to find the one she’s looking for – a story that will leave her teary as she recounts it.
Mrs Dheena, Social Worker, REACH
She points to a passport-sized photo of a keen-eyed man on the sheet, and the irredeemable ‘Deceased’ marking on it. “He died a few months ago. He was regular on treatment, but he was also HIV positive, and that claimed his life. His wife has also tested positive for HIV, but refuses to test their two girl children for HIV. I’ve been trying to convince her to do that and put them on some therapy, but I’m still trying,” she says, obviously trying to keep her emotions in check, “If the children test positive and can be put on treatment, it may add a decade or more to their lives – but their mother refuses to see this. She says that HIV took her husband away from her and she would rather not know.”
She abruptly puts the sheet aside, and moves on to show me documents of more of her current patients – some of them as young as 4 and 6. Her manner is matter-of-fact again, as she gets up to speak to an elderly couple, who have come with an X-ray result in hand. They look educated, well-dressed and ask her many questions – all of which she answers patiently. When they leave a few minutes later, Mrs Dheena talks again of how a lot of people are more comfortable coming to a private hospital like CSI Rainy, for their DOTS treatment, rather than a government institution – many a times, the patient isn’t treated with much empathy. Sadly, there aren’t too many who have allotted that space, as small as it may be, in this city.
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