Overall View of Visit to Rumtek
This recommendation is really the culmination of all the talks that we had with all the interested people at Rumtek Monastery as well as the observations that we were so fortunate to experience when we opened the dispensary in the monastery to see who would come and with what needs. We were grateful to have been able to relieve some of the illness. The monks let us know that they were very happy that plans were in motion to set up a clinic. And, we were very inspired with the intent and energy that was behind the continuation of meeting these goals.
OVERALL VIEW OF VISIT TO RUMTEK
March 21, 2010
By Don Ross and Susan Kirchoff
We visited rumtek Monastery between the dates of March 4-22, 2010 to offer assistance in starting a western medical clinic. We saw approximately 60 patients, ages 18 months to 96 years old. In being here during this season, we were not present during the rainy season that brings diarrheal disease or winter with the increase in respiratory illness.
We found that the monks in the late adolescent to middle age appear to be on the whole quite healthy, with the exception of probable GERD or dyspepsia and sinusitis. Older monks, older villagers, and pre-adolescent children and toddlers appear to have a variety of illnesses.
Children suffered with respiratory infections, ear infections, infected abrasions from trauma, high fever, vomiting (measles prodrome), ringworm of the head and body, impetigo, carbuncle, scabies and eye trauma. The youngest village children seem to be in the midst of a measles outbreak. These children had very high fevers, as high as 40.2 C. We could not determine whether children were de-wormed or vaccinated for DPT, polio, Hepatits B, BCG or MRM.
In the older population of monks and villagers, we saw a high prevalence of hypertension. Some were on medication, some were not. In either case, we could not determine whether or not these people had adequate follow up in order to prevent the consequences of hypertension which include stroke and heart disease. Though we saw some cases of very high blood pressure, there were no instances of milgnant hypertension which required immediate treatment. The very elderly villagers varied in well being. We saw one instance of Stage 4 skin ulcer and another who at 96 was alert and ambulatory despite osteoarthritis. The elderly we saw presented withmultiple joint pain, constipation, decreased vision, but on the whole very healthy. One monk presented with congestive heart failure.
Dental disease was prevalent. We saw many with dental caries and several with dental abscesses which required urgent dental intervention.
We understand that there are cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis being treated at the monastery, but we did not see these monks and could not ascertain their compliance. Though we expected the prevalence of diabetes to be high, we did not record any patients who had the disease. Similarly, we expected to find anemia, especially amongst the villagers and possibly in the monastic population because of vegetarian diets, but could not ascertain whether this was a problem. We also expected to see thyroid disease, but saw no clinical evidence of this. All of these conclusions are based only on clinical findings as we had nolaboratory and lacked proper instruments.
RECOMMENDATIONS CHECK LIST AND SUGGESTED TIME LINE
Prayer Flags Over Rumtek
Prayer flags above Rumtek Monastery that hang over the soccer field and that wave in the sweetest cool air in the world.
Back home to Seattle on Tuesday 3/23
Hello to all,
Our trip back to USA was slow enough and safe enough to allow a little acclimation. Now that we are here, physically, at least, we can relate more. When we are “caught” up to the mental, it may not be so good. Just kidding.
Here are some pictures of the dispensary in the Rumtek Monastery that is and was the sole source of medical care other than the Tibetan Medical Practice that did its best to provide such a large need over such a long period of time We have great regard for Amji La and the “retired” Nurse, Tashi, who have “held down the fort” in meeting the many immediate and ongoing community health care needs of the people as best they could since 1992. There is much more to say about the overall health care system in India in the area, but I will talk about this later.
We Got a Grant!
Bodhi Heart just received a grant for $15,000 from the Ranier Institute Foundation for the Rumtek Clinic!!! Woohoo! May it bring boundless benefit!
4th Day Here
I would say that we have been in a confused but open space, just seeing and hearing and feeling all that is possible.
Now, I can come to some clarity and say that through the work of so many people at many meetings and many cups of tea, a framework seems to be forming. And, we have come to a mental space that allows some giving of western medical attention! It was very interesting this morning when Jay had consented to see an elderly man. The dispensary was locked, but the Tibetan Medicine Doctor Dubje said to come into his office. So, Jay did a Western medical exam with dr. Dubje interpreting. Now, Dr. Dubje will take Jay’s recommendations to a doctor/hospital in Gangtok to get western medical help there. Very interesting working together of the two practices. This is necessary to continue. There are many more stories of interest, to say the least.
Regarding the overall project picture: it has been determined that an old structure that was donated by Rinpoche will be restored and serve as a clinic. This may take 6 months or more to complete. That is a long term goal.
In the short term: the plan is to stock the dispensary in the monastery with supplies and medications, and to hire a M.D. and a nurse to come weekly.
It has taken many meetings and many cups of tea with wonderful people to come to these conclusions. Dr. Jigme(his father served as the physician for the 16th Karmapa) was especially helpful and will help in finding the doctors and nurses that are needed.
This is all I can report for now. We will go to Gangtok tomorrow with Gen. Sec. Chungyalpa to meet with Tashi Densapa and do other research into locating good pharmacies and medical supply houses.
Susan Kirchoff and Don Ross