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Times of India
By Sandhya Nair
Mumbai, India

In a boost to mental health care in the city, a 250–bed non–functional multi–specialty hospital in Vasai has been converted into a long–term care centre for patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The two–storey Shree Rajendrakumar Agarwal Hospital, located in Waliv in Vasai (east), was set up about eight years ago to cater to labourers in the locality. However, the hospital had been shut down for a while due to infighting and mismanagement.

The hospital, which was then taken over by Shree Jeevandeep Medical Trust, has now been handed over to R Gopalakrishnan, a social worker who runs the Anand Rehabilitation Centre in Nalasopara. "A long–term care centre with stay facilities is the need of the hour for dementia patients," said Gopalakrishnan.

In Mumbai, Dignity Foundation runs a day care centre for dementia but it caters only to patients in and around Dadar and Bandra. There are only around six day care centres in the country, including one at Neral, run by the Dignity Foundation. This new long–term care centre will be the largest of its kind in the country.

To ensure that relatives don’t abandon patients at the centre, Gopalakrishan will meet the families of the patients before admitting them. "We will make it compulsory for family members to stay with their patients on a regular basis. Every 15 days to a month, families will have to meet us as well," he said. The centre would also give some respite to relatives and families of the patients, as taking care of the patient is often a full–time job, said Gopalakrishnan.

Mobile patients will be charged Rs 300 a day with a refundable deposit of Rs 30,000. Semi–mobile patients will be charged Rs 400 per day along with a refundable deposit of Rs 40,000. The cost per day for a fully dependent patient will be Rs 500 a day and a refundable deposit of Rs 50,000. "The cost includes food and stay," said Pradeep Tendulkar, chairperson of the trust.

Dr Devendra Save, a psychiatrist attached to Bhaktivedanta hospital in Mira Road and visiting doctor at the centre, said that the Vasai care centre would be a major help as inquiries about day care centres for dementia patients pour in every day.
(R Gopalakrishnan can be contacted on 9892134567/ 9370414145)

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