UNIT OF HOPE- A MODULE FOR MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO DIFFERENTLY-ABLED CHILDREN SET IN A TEACHING HOSPITAL IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
DR. RAMESH L. J.*
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DEPARTMENT OF ORTHOPAEDICS ST. JOHN'S MEDICAL COLLEGE HOSPITAL BANGALORE.*
Abstract
Aim: To enable differently-abled children realise their potential and lead a productive life.

Objective: To establish the UNIT OR HOPE which would:
  • Reduce the severity of disability by early detection. Manage differently-abled children using a single point, holistic approach.
  • Follow children up in the community.

Methodology:
  • Establishment -
    • St. John's Medical College Hospital, Bangalore, a mission-orientated, teaching and referral hospital recognized the need for helping differently-abled children. Professionals from the Departments of Paediatrics, Orthopaedics, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR), ENT, Ophthalmology, Psychiatry and Community Health (CH) met and volunteered their services and the UNIT OF HOPE was born.
  • Services offered -
    • Holistic, Single-point intervention, where children with special needs are offered the services of multiple specialties at a single location. Early detection, done by using a population-based approach in partnership with the PMR and CH departments, and Community outreach camp approach conducted in association with like-minded NGOs.
    • Community follow-up, in areas under the population covered by Departments of PMR and CH in the initial phase.

Results:
  • 492 children were managed in the weekly outpatient clinic and 86 required surgical intervention. 9 neonates were found to be hearing-impaired following neonatal screening and they are being rehabilitated. 100 babies were screened for retinopathy of prematurity.
  • 375 children were screened in NGO-supported outreach camps.

Conclusion:
In a multispeciality hospital, a team can be built to provide a single-point holistic service for differently-abled children.

The limitations of such a facility in our short period of experience were:
  • Affordability, especially for children with multiple disability, lack of awareness, for which a possible educational strategy is being considered.
  • The need for networking between hospital and community services/NGOs.
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