May, 2016 Susan and I went back to Rumtek after six years. We needed to reconnect and see how things were being managed at the clinic.
The vibe was definitely different. First of all, it was the time of the Vajrakalya Puja, 10 days of intense, I mean intense practice from morning into the wee hours of the morning. The great advantage for us was that all the major parties with authority to accomplish activities in Rumtek were present: Khenpo Nyima Kelsong, Umdze Lhodro, Umdze Bai Karma, Amji Drubju, Karma Dolma, Doctor Deeraj, Sister, General Secretary Karma Chungyalpa.
We met and found common ground. The clinic needed an administrator who oversaw daily activities, made sure hours were being kept, inventories maintained, medicines efficiently and economically purchased, equipment maintained, medical refuse disposed of appropriately, staff well trained.
For six years I had been thinking about how to begin a training program for monks interested in health care. Spontaneously, in meeting with the Labrang, we all landed on the same idea. There would be three monks, two from the shedra and one from the monastery who would be trained to be community health workers and administrators of the clinic. Kelsang Nyamgal, a recent grad of a medical training program, and intimately knowledgeable about the workings of Rumtek, would be our trainer for six months. He would meet each week to train the monks in administration, first aid, outreach and CPR.
We'll be in touch to let you know how things are progressing.
We also wanted to check in on the cases of tuberculosis we had reported on last year. New cases are still being diagnosed. The clinic needs support in managing the cases. It's very difficult to make sure all patients receive their medications, including inoculations of antibiotics. Close contacts all have to be tested, records of all these interactions carefully maintained to prevent spread of the disease. Our presence gave great hope to the young patients who were losing hope as their opportunities to advance in school were held up until their treatment progressed.
It's easy to build a clinic. It's infinitely harder to see that it's running well and serves the needs of the community. That takes dedicated people on the ground, and dedicated people all over the world to support its goal-making health care accessible to Rumtek.
The earlier post below details what is needed. Please consider a monthly donation to keep things going.