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Early winter up-date 2012

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To: The Friends of St Columba's Hospital, the Dublin University Mission to Chotanagpur, the Girls Friendly Society Members, the Richard Jackson Trust Members, USPG Members and All the many Supporters of St Columba's Hospital by word, deed and prayer.





Dear Friends and Well-Wishers,


Greetings from all of us at St Columba’s Hospital, Hazaribagh.  We hope that all goes well with yourselves, your families and your friends, that everyone maintained good health throughout the year and that many of your hopes - both big and small - may have been realised.  


The year 2012 is certainly hastening to a close in the usual whirlwind fashion which years have and as far as life in India is concerned it will be a hectic period of festivals, weddings and the never-ending strikes, line-fail breakdowns, electricity cuts and so on.  I am led to believe, also, that the Court will be closed for six weeks, that West Bengal has 10 sanctioned consecutive public holidays and banks a known 21 days’ closure between now and the end of the year.  As we have been waiting for new cheque books for more than a week now I am wondering just when they will be made available.  Centralisation of some services has not meant necessarily a betterment in these services which is why, perhaps, that the Government keeps coming up with schemes to privatise certain public undertakings such as the electricity boards; such schemes never finding favour with unions and most workers, incidentally.


Amidst the ebb and flow of such as the above, St Columba’s Hospital has made its way through the somewhat choppy seas of 2012.  Nothing too catastrophic has occurred to date but there has not been too much to fly the flags for although each day’s finding of a safe harbour provided much to be thankful for.  Indeed, it is probably what are considered, no doubt wrongfully, the small happinesses of life which lead to contented hearts; food to eat, shelter over-head, work to do, friends and family can surely not be considered small in the scheme of things; especially when so many are lacking in one or more of these.  Thankfully, God willing, the Staff of St Columba’s  were the beneficiaries of such during the year.


Never-the-less, a look at Hospital statistics for the ongoing year shows that the number of patients and attendant works related to the same are showing a downward trend.  There are a number of reasons which might have led to this situation, I think:


1    The number of local clinics, hospitals and nursing homes is ever increasing and has now reached a total of 50 and more according to visiting Medical Representatives.

2    The Government is offering financial and other incentives for people going to a Government hospital or clinic for deliveries and other forms of treatment.





3    Social conditions make it difficult for people to be in hospital for even the minimum of time required for them.

4    The ‘recession’ has in no way receded and financial constraints and the rise in the cost of food and fuel especially has impacted on all but especially on those in the middle and lower income groups.

5    Two of our doctors left giving, in one case, only 24 hours’ notice and, in the other, no notice at all; she now works in a Nursing Home adjacent to us.


At present there is not much that we can do about any of these factors except carry on as best we can with who-ever and what-ever is available to us.


Another sincere young doctor would be a help but some-one older and more experienced also, and equally sincere, would obviously be an advantage.  We are hoping that a newly-qualified Christian doctor will join us at the end of November, however; she awaits her Medical Council of India clearance results while in Dubai where her parents are working.


Most of the Staff have kept fairly well during the year but the end of the rains brought with it some typhoid and malaria and a very weakening form of viral fever which, even when the fever subsided, left people feeling very weak for a considerable time.  Filaria and dengue fever have also been on the increase in Jharkhand and as part of a Government programme we gave anti-filarial treatment to all members of staff and also to their family members if they asked for it.  Locally, the disease is called ‘elephant foot’ because when the lymph glands become blocked limbs can swell to disproportionate sizes.  Initially and quite often, some form of worm infestation is picked up in muddy fields but there-after filaria can be transmitted from one person to another by mosquito bites.


Financially we are treading a thin line and if it had not been for the continuing hard work and support of our friends and well-wishers abroad and in the Hospital itself things would have been very, very difficult for us indeed.  We are extremely thankful and appreciative for this ongoing support.  Apart from meeting ongoing expenses – mainly for fuel, electricity and health concession – we hope to purchase an electrically operated vacuum extractor to facilitate difficult Caesarian Section deliveries, two oil-filled heaters for use in the Prem Unit and Operating Theatre and to repair a 30’ x 9’x10” section of our boundary wall adjacent to a road which has gone out of alignment probably on account of the roots of 60’ tall eucalyptus trees which are growing next to it.  Unfortunately, our Engineer is suffering from ill-health and is not at present able to advise us on the matter.  This work is very important, however, and is bound to cost us a great deal of money. It could be as much as between Rs 100,000 and Rs 200,000, I think, for as well as wall dismantling and rebuilding, about six of the 60’ trees will have to be brought down safely without damaging more wall, nearby buildings and power lines etc.  After which I might sleep peacefully.






As time and tide do not appear to stop I shall have to bring this up-date letter to a close.  I should like to repeat, though, that we are very, very grateful indeed for the continued prayers and financial support of all concerned which enabled us to continue as a Christian, charitable, non-profit-making Hospital throughout 2012 and thereby treat some thousands of patients.  Thank you so, so much. 


God-willing we shall make more headway during the oncoming year and I pray for all of us and our families and our friends that He will  “preserve us while waking and guard us while sleeping that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace for it is most true that no-one knows what the next seconds and minutes might bring, let alone the next year, life hanging, as it does, by one of those almost invisible spider-like threads equal in vulnerability and strength.



From St Columba’s Hospital, Hazaribagh


28th October, 2012








After drafting this Up-date there was a major breakdown in the Hazaribagh Telephone Exchange and shortly after the concerned people went to rectify the situation they all went on strike.  Normal  telephone and thereby Internet connections were restored on the afternoon of the 7th November, 2012.

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