The Ophthalmic and Paediatric medical camp at Fr L. M. Pinto Hospital, Badyar, in Belthangady Taluk, for eye problem diagnosis and treatment and similar service for children, organised by Catholic Association of South Kanara (CASK) on November 8, 2015 drew an impressive response with a total of 144 eye patients and 73 children being examined by a team of eye and children’s specialists from Fr Muller Medical College Hospital, Mangaluru. The camp, part of the outreach program, an offshoot of the centenary year of CASK, is the fifth such camp. Of the 144 for ophthalmic patients investigated 62 were prescribed spectacles, to be provided free of cost by CASK, and eight were recommended for corrective surgery to be done at Father Muller at no cost for the patients. Of the 73 children investigated, six were recommended for further surgical investigation and 20 were diagnosed as malnourished and set for a course of corrective action to bring them around to good health within a year.
The Fr Muller team of ophthalmologists, headed by Dr. Nelly Nazareth, got down to work in their specially set up consulting rooms at 9 AM without any formal inauguration ceremony and worked for four hours without a break and so did the Paediatric team. They were ably backed up by the efficient nursing staff of Fr. L. M. Pinto Hospital, under close supervision of Sr Premlata of the Bethany Congregation, Administrator of the hospital. CASK President and Hon Secretary, Capt. John Prasad Menezes and Mario Saldanha, respectively, and immediate past President, Dr. Derek Lobo andAllan Fernandes, GC member, facilitated on behalf of CASK.
A background on the hospital and its Administrator , brief profiles of some of the patients as also photographs from the camp are featured alongside.
The patients and their escorts who arrived at the hospital as the morning progressed come from poor classes and semi-literates. They are diffident about going to an eye or child specialist or even affording their consultation fees or cost of medicines or surgery when called for. For them Fr Muller is a trusted name. For CASK it is an opportunity to do something for the needy marginalised. Here is a profile of some patients who turned up at the camp.
Selvi D’ Souza has come a long way, literally. This Tamil Christian’s root go to distant Kanykumari from where she landed up at Badyar, via Bangaluru, where, after finishing her 12th Standard, she was a Dialysis nurse. In Bangalore, her mum spotted Vincent Paul D’Souza 16 years ago and who is since her husband. She now works as housekeeper for a doctor who works for Pinto Hospital while Joseph is the hospital’s ambulance driver. They now live in a rented house but have a plan to build their own house on a 15-cents land which they have already bought. Selvi, 36 years, has been finding it tiresome to read even for half an hour, with her eye s watering and bringing on a headache. She hopes to get relief through the CASK camp. Selvi and Vincent have two kids – Joseph Immanuel and Maria Sneha. Selvi looks forward to resuming her Bible reading after her tryst with the CASK camp.
Cecilia Veigas, 53 years, a widow for seven years, from Gardai, 8 Km from Badyar, has trouble in both eyes – left eye more serious. She knows about Father Muller free service. A 5th standard, she finds distant objects foggy and hopes that the camp will give her relief.
Lavina D’Souza, 41 years, from Aledangadi, 16 KM from Badyar, finds both her eyes foggy and blurred. She heard about the camp from her church announcement. She is prepared to wear specs if prescribed. She works in an Anganwadi and Pavithra, her co-worker there, had escorted her to the camp.
Sujata Shetty, 41 years, whose husband, Jayaram, works in a bar in Mangalore, lives close to the camp. She rolls beedies – as many in the area do. Her son, Kumar, 10 years and in 6th St. , suffers from constant fever, cough and stomach-ache. Her family has been treated at the Pinto Hospital and she speaks highly about the hospital and doctors there.
Sita, 28 years, rolls beedies while her husband, Vasantha, 30 years, does cooly work. She came with her twin daughters, Suraksha and Surakshita, both 10 years and in 4th St. They can’t see distant objects clearly. They have been recommended to go to Father Muller at Kankanady, Mangaluru, for which group transport arrangements are made by CASK- apart from cost-free treatment.
The above represent a typical cross-section of beneficiaries who attended to at CASK camps.
The Hospital Administrator
Any account of the eye camp will not be complete without a brief focus on some of the 217 poor villagers who took advantage of it and administrator who fronted the staff of the hospital with their smiling and efficient professional service.
Overseeing the camp operations with great efficiency was Sr. Premlata of the Bethany Order who has been the Administrator of the Pinto Hospital (about which see the accompanying article) for the last four years. She did her B.Sc. Nursing from Fr. Mullers in 1993. She has worked in Concetta Hospital in Kinnigoly for 15 years. For the first two years in the nursing profession Sr. Premlata struggled to cope and had doubts about continuing. From the third year onwards she felt that nursing was her true vocation. She came to like taking care of the poor and sick. Now she finds joy in reaching out to the poor and speaking to them and listening to their difficulties. Sr. Premlata says that when she does that on a daily basis she feels that her problems are nothing. Her professionalism is well reflected in the seamlessly smooth running of the hospital with a band of staff offering helpful service with a smile.
Fr. L. M. Pinto Hospital, Badyar
The mid-sized Fr. L. M. Pinto Hospital at Badyar, near Guruvayankere of Belthangady Taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, at a distance of 60 KM from Mangalore and 7 KM from Belthangady, had its roots in Church of St Raphael. In 1922, Fr. Gaviraghi, SJ, built a small residence and a hall to serve as a chapel on a 5-acre land. When Fr Louis Marcel (LM) Pinto was the chaplain, his brother, Dr. Peter Paul Pinto, a gold medallist from Madras University, started dispensing free medical aid to the people in 1927. In the same year Fr. Sebastian Noronha, who trained catechists, built a church and dedicated it St Raphael the Archangel. Bishop Victor Fernandes raised Badyar to the status of a parish in 1937. Fr Gerald Lobo, who later became Bishop of Shimoga and now the Bishop of the newly created Udupi Diocese, as parish priest of Badyar constructed the new building for the church and re-opened Fr. L. M. Pinto Hospital (Pinto Hospital). That takes us to the checkered history of Pinto Hospital.
In 1927, Fr Pinto, Dr. Pinto and their two sisters laid the foundation of the present-day Pinto Hospital in a thatched hut. Gradually the medical service rendered spread its fame in surrounding villages. The flow of patients increased – not only from Belthangady Taluk but neibhouring centrs like Mulki, Karkala, Uppinangady and the adjoining district of Chikamagalur. One reason for this was that in those days many ailments like malaria, TB, asthma, anemea, skin diseases dogged the poor villagers – and the hospital provided effective treatment.
In 1959 the selfless Dr. Pinto, dedicated to the service of the poor patients died. For some time Fr. Pinto struggled to maintain the medical service; but soon the services stopped completely to the distress of the patients. Then, in 1979, the Mangaluru-based CODP organisation, under its “Belthangady Package Program” intervened and later, in 1983, reviving Pinto Hospital with local initiative of Fr. Gerald Lobo – starting with 12 beds, in-patient and out-patient departments with X-ray facilities. After two years the hospital tapped the help of Fr. Muller Hospital. In 1992 the administration of the hospital was entrusted to the Mangaluru-based Bethany Sisters. Today the hospital has 60 beds for in-patients. There are three in-house doctors and eight visiting doctors and a total staff of 60 ensuring day and night services with modern operation theatre and a casualty ward.
Pinto Hospital is located off the busy public road and enjoys a serene environment. Inside the modern building there is a cheerful, brightly lit atmosphere. The hospital offers in-patient and out-patient services, delivery room and separate ward for the delivered, 24/7 casualty service, X-ray, ECG ultrasound and laboratory, treatment for snake-bites which are common in rural areas and ambulance service. The campus has hostel and rest facilities for doctors and staff. Overall, Pinto Hospital is a boon for scores of villages in and around Badyar.
– By John B. Monteiro