Providing vital healthcare services to rural populations in Punjab, through the Guru Nanak Mission Hospital
The creation and ongoing development of the Guru Nanak Mission Hospital is a hallmark project supported by CIES.
The first venture of the Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust (GN Trust) was to open a rural hospital in April, 1984.
The hospital follows in the footsteps of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s call to serve the needs of people by providing education, healthcare services and employment.
The GN Trust was spearheaded by the late Budh Singh Dhahan, the father of Barj Dhahan, who is the co-founder of CIES.
When it opened, it was a 40-bed hospital. Today, it has the capacity to hold 200 beds. On average, about 100 beds are used daily.
The hospital provides a variety of in-patient and out-patient services including emergency care, general surgery, eye care, physiotherapy and more.
Understanding the need for subsidized, private health care in India
It is important to note that, while India does have a public healthcare system it is not universal and funded by the government. In Punjab, multi-generational medical family businesses provide about 80% of medical services.
Rural areas are underserved and many people cannot afford to pay for the needed services. For this reason, many who live in rural areas rely on charitable, not-for-profit organizations, such as those offered at the Guru Nanak Mission Hospital.
Guru Nanak Mission Hospital provides quality medical services at reasonable cost. Some of the services are free or subsidized for those who are economically challenged and are unable to pay for the cost.
Activities undertaken to expand healthcare in rural Punjab
Over the years, the hospital gradually added more departments to expand its role in healthcare. Services now include:
- General Surgery
- Internal Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
Between 1996 – 2006, the hospital’s capacity gradually grew to 200 beds. This makes it one of largest medical and health care campuses in rural Punjab. While only half of this capacity is typically reached, the added space allows the hospital to take in more patients during seasonal fluctuations of need.
In addition to the above departments, a trauma care centre was established in 2007. In 2018 the Centre was named the Budh Singh Dhahan Trauma Centre in memory of the founder of GN Trust.
The hospital also provides an outpatient service, which operates similarly to a health clinic or doctor’s office in Canada. It provides non-emergency care, including day surgeries not requiring overnight stay.
As of 2022, the hospital operates with one life support ambulance, one critical care ambulance and two additional small ambulances to provide emergency transportation for locals in the area.
On-site laboratories help with testing and diagnostics.
Housing and on-site services
Housing for doctors was built in the same year that the hospital opened, on the same campus where the hospital is situated. Housing helps attract medical professionals to a rural area where housing would otherwise be difficult to find.
A guest house called the UBC Canada House was built to provide a place to host overseas visitors volunteering and consulting at the hospital and nursing school. The building was named after the University of British Columbia to acknowledge the significant contributions provided by the UBC School of Nursing. Today, it houses doctors, nurses and other visitors from around the world.
The campus is home to a Gurdwara (Sikh temple), a bank, a cafe, a convenience store, a pharmacy and other amenities. The grounds are landscaped and maintained by landscape staff. This makes the environment peaceful and pleasant for staff, patients, students and those living on the campus.
Nurses-in-training at the Guru Nanak College of Nursing fulfill their clinical practice hours at the hospital, as well as at neighbouring health centres and facilities.
Complementary health outreach
Through the Guru Nanak College of Nursing, the hospital provides outreach services through “health camps” in surrounding village communities where health checkups are performed, medicine is distributed and locals are educated on healthcare topics, free of charge.
The hospital also provides free eye check-ups and cataract surgeries, free blood sugar tests (for diabetes), free patient and visitor meals and free or subsidized care for those with financial need.
Substance & addiction recovery
Between 1992 – 2018, the hospital became a pioneer in addiction recovery services for rural Punjab by opening an in-residence substance abuse rehabilitation facility in collaboration with the Red Cross. It was called the Red Cross De-Addiction & Rehabilitation Centre. Sixteen beds were made available to participate in a 30-day treatment program, which was always running over capacity.
Outcomes of the project
Between 2019 and 2021, the hospital serviced in excess of 140,000 patients:
|Out-Patient Department (OPD)||In-Patient Department (IPD)|
The above numbers do not include patients served through health outreach activities in local communities surrounding Dhahan Kalaren.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guru Nanak Mission Hospital was one of a couple hospitals in the region to remain open 24 hours per day. It was the only charitable and private hospital in the district to set up a special isolation unit to take care of COVID-19 positive patients. CIES led the effort to raise funds to provide personal protective equipment, and to support the salaries of support staff at the hospital.
Elevating medical care in rural Punjab
The hospital became the first in the region to perform laparoscopic surgeries. It also launched the first regional blood bank in a non-governmental hospital.
The hospital evolves on a continual basis, as seen above, by continually improving its services and adding to its capacity.
Thanks in large part to the clinical training opportunities provided by the hospital, the Guru Nanak College of Nursing has graduated 2308 students across all of its programs, as of 2021.
Addressing substance abuse
The 30-day drug recovery program boasted a 100% completion rate. It became so popular that Canadian and UK residents were sent there by families for help. The Centre was eventually closed due to financial pressures and changing regulatory requirements.
Stimulating the local economy
The hospital is also a continuing source of economic stimulation in the area by employing dozens of people. As of 2021, the hospital employed 64 medical staff, including 22 doctors and an additional 48 nurses. The GN Trust also employs 165 support staff to work in various capacities on the grounds of the campus where the hospital is situated.