Bedside Advocacy: A Need We are Glad to Meet

Worldwide, medical care facilities can be a grave endangerment to the unsuspecting sick and injured individuals seeking help. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in ten hospital admissions leads to an adverse health event, and one in 300 leads to death. WHO lists medical errors in India as one of the top 10 killers in the world. We have witnessed the statistics in the city and rural areas ranging from misdiagnosis to physical mutilations. Despite India's progress in the medical field, it is in dire need for caring and competent patient advocates to prevent this unnecessary loss of life.

Nick Moore, a healthcare student of GOD International, is currently serving as an advocate in one of the poorest slums in Delhi. His compassionate care for an orphan named Bura is just a glimpse of the powerful role that we are playing in saving lives from such avoidable medical errors.

Although my experience in India and its health care system is limited to 2 months time, in that time I have been able to work in several different healthcare facilities, from clinics to hospitals, from the heart of Delhi to the rural villages. I have been in the overcrowded halls of government hospitals, and the vacant corridors of private ones. I have worked in the clinic where one doctor tries to keep his head above the overwhelming waves of need, and in the unused health center where there is no doctor at all.

Since being in India I have had some amazing experiences. Perhaps the most memorable of my trip so far has been advocating and offering bedside care for a young boy named Bura. He’s a 12 year old boy who was orphaned and became a ward of the state, and about 3 months ago he was given over to the care of an orphanage administrated by some friends. Bura is also deaf, and completely blind in one eye. About a month ago he was injured in his other eye and sustained a retinal detachment, losing his one connection to the world.

Bura’s caretakers, the owners of the orphanage, prayed that God would help his situation. The hospital offered their services free of charge, which they understood to be a gift from God! But, with an orphanage already full, they were worried because no staff could be spared to stay with Bura in the hospital after the procedure. When I became aware of the situation through visiting the orphanage, I was more than willing to offer myself and provide this service for him. I befriended him prior to the surgery through frequent visits, then I was able to stay with him after the surgery when he was in pain, confused, and frightened. Without sight or hearing, communication was reserved almost completely to touch, so I held his hand and comforted him. I helped him to the bathroom, I fed him and made sure he was getting his medicine. Even in one of the nicest hospitals I have ever been in, it was challenging to procure these most basic needs.

Since Bura’s operation I have visited him multiple times. His vision has almost fully recovered and he is even running around. I sat with him as he drew me pictures with a grin from ear-to-ear. Staying with Bura in the hospital has taught me more about the need for patient care and advocacy than any program or course ever could. I may not have done the surgery, but I cared for Bura in his time of need, and I believe that this is of great worth in the Kingdom of God.

I think that this is the greatest need regarding healthcare in India: conscious individuals who practice compassion while caring for others, especially in pre or post-surgical care. The people of India need advocates who understand that human beings (all of them) are the temple of God, and they deserve to be cared for as such. In order for such a temple to be filled with the spirit of God (the goal), they need to first experience healing, both physically and psychologically. Performing surgery might fix the physical issue, but providing patients with consistent caretakers who are capable of advocating and ensuring their needs are met can bring even greater health--allowing them to place trust in another human being, and believing that they themselves are worthy of such quality care. I am happy to play this role for those, like Bura, who are without a caretaker. But I know Bura isn't the only one in need. I also know that I am not the only one who can do this job.

Written by Nicholas Moore