Inside Psychiatric Hospital: How Kashmiri docs, paramedics take care of non-local pateints

Srinagar, March 17:”Get me biscuits and toffees,” said Julie, to a paramedic at Psychiatric hospital Rainawari, Srinagar.

Julie Haider, 20, is non-Kashmiri patient who came to Valley from Kolkata, West Bengal for a domestic help to a family who lived at Saraf Kadal area of Srinagar.

After working for only three-days with the family, Julie who was abandoned by her family was shifted to psychiatric hospital last year because of her aggressive behavior.

According to the hospital staff, Julie was brought to the valley by some agency who provide maids to the families for domestic help. But because of aggressive and strange behaviour she was shifted to the hospital.

“ I want to go home and live with my family. I have three brothers, 3 sisters. We are very poor,” she said.

Though, Julie claims to have a family back home but doctors in the hospital are trying hard to reunite her with her family.

Like Julie, 50-year old OM Prakash from Vijaypora Jammu was too abandoned by his family and is under the rehabilitation of the hospital since seven years.

He was shifted to the hospital by the Humhama Police station after they found him wandering near the Srinagar Airport.

“We have contacted the Jammu police station but could not find his family. He is here from the year 2012,” said Sajad Ahmad, a social worker in the hospital.

He said that Prakash is giving a proper addrerss and he is not changing his statements. He said that the police has named him as Rahim Bakerwal but his actual name is Om Prakash.

Besides them, there are three young non-Kashmiri girls and one men abandoned by their families who are being taken care by the kashmiri Doctors and Paramedics at the hospital.

Sajad Ahmad, a paramedic in the hospital said that they treat these non-kashmiri patients as their own family members. “ We have hindu as well as muslim non- locals here who are abandoned by their families but we properly take care of them,” he said.

He also said that they are searching their family so that these patients who are normal now can reunite with them. “ These people are not now patients, they are normal and can live with their families but nobody is owing them. They are giving their addresses and then we call different police stations outside to find their families. Sometimes we do not get any response back from the police outside,” he said.

He also said that recently we contacted Calcutta police and informed them about Julie. “ We are trying very hard to contact their families. We cannot let them suffer on the roads. On humanity basis we are keeping them here otherwise no hospital would take such person for a long time, ” he added.

The paramedics and Doctors in the hospital has worked hard to treat such patient with a potential mental health crisis and now almost all of them are fine now.

The paramedics have now learned to identify problems, intervene and de-escalate the situation.

After a physical assessment, the paramedics talk to the non-local patients to figure out what, precisely, the issue is, asking also about issues like a patient’s mental health history, drug use and family issues.

They use that information, along with details about resources available, to figure out the next steps for them and try to contact with their families.

Another Paramedic , Tabasum Dilawer said that they spend time with the patients to make them comfortable and secure. They build relationships with them. They take care their physiological needs, ensure safety, providing food on time, maintain hygiene, provide a comfortable bedding and other facilities as per the weather.

“ We give these non-locals a love and belongings which means a friendly interaction, spending time, chatting, keeping them happy. For females we take care of their sanitary needs. We involve them in different activities like volley ball game. They initially had Intellectual deficiency then we gave them speech therapies as well,” she said.

Fayaz Ahmad Rather, a Warden said that he help these non-locals to take bath, provide clothing, provide them food on time. “ We are taking care of them till their family take them back. In fact we have given gifts to some who met their family belonging outside the state,” he said.

Doctors in the hospital said that rehabilitation was very important especially for those who are being abandoned by their families.

“ While safety and rehabilitation helped most non-local patients to recover, the non- locals need more and different treatments because their culture and language is different. We had many non-locals in this hospital before. We treated them, searched their families and sent back to their homes safely,” said Dr Zaid, a Senior Psychiatrist at the hospital.

He said, “ We are keeping these non-locals here on the basis of humanity. Otherwise as per the mental act, after being treated the patient should be discharged. There is no such hospital outside the state where abandoned patients who are normal are being taken care by the staff. But we want to provide safety to them, “he said.

He also said the doctors can provide medical help but rehabilitation part should have been taken care by other agencies. “Looking for the families of those abandoned does not come under our hospital. But we do help these helpless patients reach their homes.”

Dr Yasir Hussain Rather, a Psychiatrist in the hospital said that in some places, efforts to help these non-locals seem to be working. In others, they are stumbling.

“Such abandoned patients in a long run lose their skills. A proper rehabilitation including skill development can help them for a better health,” he said.

The doctor also said that the hospital has collected money to reunite one of the non-local with his family.

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