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Times of India
04 December 2010
Kolkata, India

Free Treatment
It held out hope for thousands of poor patients on the southern fringes of the city when it was set up in 1996. Those without access to basic healthcare received free treatment, surgery and medicine.

Humanity Hospital at Thakurpukur, a unique initiative launched by the mother–son duo of Subhashini Mistry and her doctor son Ajoy Mistry, is set to venture deeper into the outbacks of South 24–Parganas through a unit at Lahiripur in the Sunderbans. Construction work is on in full swing and the hospital is expected to be functional in three years.

"It will cater to around 2 lakh people who have no treatment facility other than a few defunct government health centres and small private clinics that are grossly inadequate. We shall have a team of 20 doctors attending to patients over the weekend to begin with.

The Lahiripur unit will have 25 beds across 10 departments and will offer treatment free of charge," said Mistry who had taken up medicine to realize her mother’s dream of setting up a free hospital for the poor. Subhashini Mistry, who saw her husband die without treatment, saved money earned by selling vegetables on the pavement for the hospital.

Humanity now runs a clinic at Lahiripur. The new unit will have three storeys and spread across 1000 sq ft. "We shall have medicine, gynaecology, skin, orthopaedic , ophthalmology, ENT, dentistry and urology departments. Our consultants at the Thakurpukur hospital will be spending the weekend there. Sunderbans has never had so many doctors from Kolkata treating patients there. It will be a big step in healthcare for the region and we are keeping our fingers crossed," said Mistry.

Meanwhile, the Thakurpukur hospital has introduced paying beds to reach out to those who can’t bear the cost of treatment. "We have started charging Rs 100 per day from those who can pay. For the rest, we continue to provide free treatment. Soon, we shall have 50 additional beds that will include both paying and free ones. Unless we charge the relatively affluent patients, we can’t serve those who can’t pay," explained Mistry.

The new unit will depend entirely on the volume of donations that flow in, he added. "We have started approaching donors who have already extended support. Obviously, we need more funds. It will be difficult or else we wouldn’t have set a target of three years to start the hospital. But we shall go ahead," Mistry said.

Hardships have never bothered the Mistrys. When Subhashini lost her husband and pledged to build a hospital, she had four children to look after. She sold vegetables on the pavement, got her children educated and saved her hard–earned money for her dream hospital.

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