A three-story, fifty-bed secondary care hospital is set to be built on Bhaktisiddhanta Road opposite the ISKCON Mayapur campus in West Bengal, expanding the already existing Sri Mayapur Community Hospital.
The hospital will be staffed by qualified devotee doctors and nurses and will serve ISKCON devotees, Vaishnavas from the nearby Gaudiya Maths, local villagers, and pilgrims. The convenient service will save patients a journey to a hospital in Kolkata and will provide them with high-quality treatment in a more personalized way and at a much more affordable cost.
The history of health care services in Mayapur goes back some 25 years when the Sri Mayapur Vikas Sanga was formed to serve the greater Mayapur area. In the early days, a homeopathy van traveled from village to village. Later, a hospital building was constructed where basic nursing and healthcare services were provided. Parallel to this effort, community nursing services were offered by Prayojana Dasi, and midwifery services were offered for many years by devotees like Krishna Laulya Dasi and the late Ramadevi Dasi.
The next step came in 2013, when Dr. Madhavananda Das, director of Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai, established a clinic at the existing Mayapur hospital building, run by husband and wife Dr. Dina Pavan Das and Dr. Lila Radhika Dasi. The clinic cared for basic illnesses, while dental services were run by Dr. Keshava and Dr. Yashoda Jivan. Later, Bhaktivedanta Hospital also set up an eye care facility.
In 2016, Bhaktivedanta Hospital passed management on to the Mayapur Administrative Council (MAC), who in 2019 decided to expand the project, now named the Sri Mayapur Community Hospital. Soon after, Medical Superintendent Dr. Sukhi Acyuta Das came on board. Finally, in March 2020, when COVID-19 hit, the team spent the lockdown period from March to June working virtually on developing the hospital design.
The present team comprises Dr. Sukhi Achyuta, the Medical Superintendent; general physician Dr. Soumik Debnath; physiotherapist Mukunda Govardhan; senior dentist Dr. Keshava; resident dentist Dr. Yashoda Jivan; Dr. Nandapriya Nevadita; and Dr. Rangini. Dr. Vinay Gaurachandra, His Holiness Jayapataka Swami’s personal doctor, offers extensive telemedical consultations as part of the hospital team; while many other visiting experts and surgeons such as Dr. Bonamali Roy regularly see patients at the hospital.
Jayapataka Swami with the hospital team pre-pandemic, on February 2nd, 2020
The existing hospital has also recently added a digital x-ray facility, an advanced diagnostic lab, and a well-equipped physiotherapy section. The hospital reports to the Mayapur Administrative Council via MAC member in charge of health services Harilila Das.
The new hospital will have fifty beds and will put an emphasis on space, with adequate distance between beds, wide circulation areas, and corridors up to eight feet wide. Emphasis will also be placed on natural ventilation and natural light, important elements for the healing process.
The ground floor of the hospital will feature an emergency section with four ICU beds; a registration and waiting area; outpatient treatment rooms; consultation rooms; offices; a kitchen for staff as well as for patients’ dietary meals; and the already-existing physiotherapy department. There will also be a pharmacy with dual counters – one facing inside the hospital, and the other facing the main road so that people can buy medicine without entering the hospital. In addition, there will be two types of elevators – a dumbwaiter to transport materials and a large patient lift with space for a stretcher.
The first floor will be home to various diagnostic facilities such as a digital x-ray, ultrasound, pathology lab, and microbiology lab. There will also be a ladies’ general ward with 12 beds, a labor and delivery room, and an anti-natal ward with six beds. Elsewhere, there will be two private rooms with attached bathrooms and an attendant facility; an ophthalmic operation theater for eye operations; an eyecare outpatient department; and a dental department.
On the second floor, meanwhile, will be a blood bank and laboratory; men’s wards with 12 beds in one room, six beds in another and two private rooms; an operation theater for general, gynecological, orthopedic, and minor procedures; and post-op recovery facilities.
Neurological consulting and telemedicine consulting services will also be provided by the hospital, as well as palliative care, so that devotees can leave their bodies in the holy dhama of Mayapur. Finally in a separate facility apart from the main hospital building will be ladies’ and men’s isolation wards for treating COVID-19 and similar illnesses; or, in their absence, for natural or manmade disaster management.
Already, the Sri Mayapur Community Hospital has raised funds via the “COVID Karuna” campaign and has acquired COVID-19 testing equipment, with ventilators on the way soon. Hospital staff has treated patients for COVID-19 and other ailments, including local villagers who were delighted to receive prasadam along with their treatment.
The existing Sri Mayapur Community Hospital
“We hope to start construction by the end of this year with all COVID-related safety precautions, and to complete it in 2022 so that the hospital is ready to open along with the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium,” says MAC member in charge of health services Harilila Das.
What’s exciting is that the fifty-bed secondary care hospital will only be the first phase of a larger plan. Phase 1 will be able to treat a wide range of medical complications including all common diseases, cardiac emergencies, accidents, common surgeries, and dental and eye care. Phase 2 will be a large multi-specialty hospital that will ensure that patients do not have to travel elsewhere even for advanced treatment, including brain surgery, open-heart surgery, and organ transplants.
An entirely new building will be constructed for Phase 2, allowing Phase 1 to then be converted into a specialized birthing facility.
Lastly, Phase 3 will see the development of a separate Ayurvedic and naturopathy facility on the bank of the Ganges. For all these health care facilities, ISKCON Mayapur has already allocated about 10 acres of land in their Masterplan.
According to Harilila Das, the Sri Mayapur Community Hospital is being developed with a missionary spirit under directions from H.H. Jayapataka Swami and other senior members of the Mayapur Executive Board to render service not just to ISKCON devotees from around the world, but also to the local people, or dhama-vasis, regardless of faith, and to the greater Gaudiya community in Mayapur.
“This hospital service is one of the platforms which could be a strong force to help unify the entire Gaudiya family,” he says. “We are one big family, and we are there to take care of each other.”
Because it is for everyone, the campaign to raise funds for the hospital’s construction will be entitled, “Build Your Hospital in Mayapur.”
Harilila also adds that the hospital is “A powerful tool to spread the Krishna conscious culture of care, love, and compassion.”
So far, Mayapur, the holy dhama and ISKCON’s world headquarters, has excellent facilities for spiritual life as well as for child and adult education. One of the major missing links for the devotee community to live there peacefully, according to Harilila, is healthcare – which the Sri Mayapur Community Hospital will fulfill.
“It will be like adding a very nice flower to the whole bouquet of services which ISKCON Mayapur wants to offer to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada,” he says.