We have seen a huge number of women here in Mysore – over 200 in the first three days – with pretty much the same percentages of positives and pap smears as usual in India.
The big news here is that last evening (Tuesday, July 12) we were taken to meet the Swamiji (god-man) of the JSS system. He is head of many health care and educational institutions all over the greater Mysore area, and is reputed to have a huge amount of power and ability to get things done. Our host hospital for this visit is JSS Hospital, by far the largest hospital in Mysore. The connection was made by Mr. V. Bhat, who is a leader in the local Rotary and a devotee of the Swamiji.
Our visit with the Swamiji seemed to be very successful, and he told us we should meet with the Karnataka State Minister of Medical Education. He also acknowledged how important our work is. We then went into a small dining room inside the ashram and were given dinner and tea. As we ate, Mr. Bhat called the Minister and set a meeting for Wednesday at 5:00.
During the night, Dr. Rashmi became quite ill and had to be taken to a nearby hospital emergency room. There are not easy ways to get transport at 2:00 am in India, so the young man on the hotel desk woke up another guest with a car and got the owner to take us. The young man also came along because he knew where to find the hospital. With Rhoda and Rashmi and her mother Mytree that made a really full car!
This hospital had an excellently stocked and fully staffed emergency room and no waiting patients, so Rashmi got seen immediately. Unfortunately, they could not find the cause of her pain and nausea, but gave her an injection to ease the cramps. In the morning, Rashmi and Mytree left us and returned to their family in Bangalore. Later in the day we found she was feeling better, but still unsure of the cause.
So Rhoda was on her own with the volunteer docs, and as luck would have it, we had 81 women to see, and carried out 2 LEEP, many cryos and biopsys, and worked over an extra hour to get everyone seen. It's hard to turn women away when they've been bussed in from a remote village for the screening. Dr. Shobha Krishnan, a Columbia Univ. professor with her own HPV NGO in Chennai and Gujurat, is visiting to explore collabortions, and she pitched in with background stuff in the medical area. I was inundated with registrations, clinical reports, and a spreadsheet that crashes every few minutes – but we got through it all!
Unfortunately the minister could not meet with us, so we are carrying on with whatever connections we can make and focusing on building a network of solid relationships for the future. Given all this, we were glad the Minister of Health Education was unable to see us!
One more day of camp and then we head for home – quite happy with the progress in both our sites, appreciative of the great organizational support both sites present, and confident that we will be able to scale up our operations in the Mysore