poor children

Pic courtesy: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday evenings are fun. They are the culmination of a tiring work week and generally are a precursor to a relaxed weekend. Okay, not that relaxed but at least a time to unwind, catch up with the chores, read, watch silly TV or movies and tolerate the kids waiting for Monday to come quickly. A regular evening like that was turned on its head last evening when the younger son cut his hand while trying something with the kitchen knife.

To cut a long story short, we were at the nearby hospital’s Emergency Room within minutes. He required sutures, a number of injections and medicines to get the situation under control. While he was being tended to by the doctor on duty along with the nurses, there were 2 other doctors handling emergencies of similar kinds in the wards. The room next door had two wailing kids. The sound of crying kids distresses me especially those in pain not the tantrum kind, those ones drive me mad. As the door was open, I could see these two young kids, very tiny in form with a bunch of tubes hanging from their mouth and hands crying hysterically. Their poor mother looked hapless.

While my son was getting stitched up and the husband and I waited outside, there was commotion as the poor lady with the two children was crying and saying that she had no money to pay the bill. She was disheveled and perhaps was a housemaid. Seeing her children crying pitifully and her shedding helpless tears cut through us. There is nothing that connects parents more than suffering children. On gentle inquiry, I found out that her kids had consumed rat poison by mistake while she was out for work. The hospital staff had flushed their stomachs but they still required some pediatric attention. They were asked to go to a government hospital. Also because apparently the police needed to be notified. The mother and the relative accompanying her had no clue what to do. And the bigger crisis was that they had no money to pay the bill which was already running into thousands.

While all of us grumble at the exorbitant charges these hospitals take, imagine how a poor housemaid whose children were in critical danger would do that. I requested the doctors on duty to do something for her. Also spoke to those at billing to reduce her bill on humanitarian grounds. Of course, I was naïve. No one seemed to care. The children still needed further medical attention but were foisted off because perhaps the parent did not have the funds for treatment there. The doctors acted unconcerned too. Perhaps because my own child was suffering or because I am not exposed to this on a daily basis, it affected me greatly.

While the situation was not getting resolved, the husband took things in his hands. He paid their bill and also gave them money to catch an auto to the nearest government hospital. I am so proud of him for knowing the right thing to do under such circumstances. He is such a fantastic calm head under such situations and God knows we’ve been through quite a few of these with the kids.

The incident was on our minds on the way back home. How grateful, privileged and a bit ashamed we felt to have access to healthcare, to be able to stand up for our rights and demand them and to not be pushed around and taken for a ride. How does the healthcare system – doctors, administrators etc. become so immune to human suffering when it clashes with monetary interests? Does a human life really matter so little especially when it belongs to a poor person? There are no easy answers, are there?

My thoughts and prayers are with that mother. I hope her children are doing fine.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it is naïve to expect private hospitals to help poor patients?

Comments

comments

56 Thoughts on “Do poor human lives matter to anyone?

  1. You were not naive Rachna, you were human with a heart that doesn’t just beat, it cares too.

  2. I cannot commend you and your husband enough Rachna. This was a fantastic gesture. One, to feel someone else’s pain when your child is in pain too and two, to do something about it. We need more of yous.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Grandmas and green chickpeasMy Profile

    • I guess we were in the right place at the right time. But I wonder for one person helped how many are turned away? Why is it so difficult for private hospitals to not do something more? It makes me feel mad.

  3. It breaks my heart really. I am proud of you and your husband for your act of kindness. I do think it is naive to expect the same from private hospitals. From whatever I have seen and heard they just care about making money. Sincerely hope the lady’s kids are fine now. Hope your little one is well too.
    Destiny’s child recently posted…In two minutesMy Profile

    • Yes, it is blatant how they first raise big bill and then refuse to budge an inch. Yes, he is doing better. It will take a week for the sutures to be removed. Till that time, his hand will be bandaged and not used.

  4. Your post brought a lump to my throat, Rachna. To help another child- while your own is in pain, is truly an act of compassion.

    The question that you’ve raised has somehow reinforced my ‘belief’ that there is no value for a poor person’s life in our country.
    Kamini recently posted…9 Points that will Help You Build Communication For a Non-Vocal ChildMy Profile

    • I was wondering whether to write about this incident. It should not come across as tom-tomming a gesture. But, I was so hurt to see how she was treated. There really is no value for a poor person’s life and it is truly tragic that no one seems to bother in our country.

  5. Agree with Kamini. Had a lump in my throat as I read this. To think of someone else’s pain in the midst of your own suffering is true empathy. Kudos to you and your husband for a gesture and a thought that got translated into such action. I tip my hat to you both.

    Hope G is doing better now, poor chap.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Uncorking memories- #Memoir #WritingMy Profile

    • Thank you, Shy. I believe we were in the position to help and helped out. Any decent person would have done the same but more shocking was the disdain with which the lady and her children were treated. They don’t wear fancy clothes or have money and hence don’t deserve to have basic human empathy for their suffering. How terrible it makes one feel to actually witness it? G is doing much better now. His hand is healing. We just changed his bandage this morning. Lots of swelling but so far so good.

  6. Hi Rachana, This really shows that humanism still exist. you and your husband has done a very wonderful act by helping a needful. But it also shows that there is still a lot of to do for poor who faces all such challenges during their treatment in India.
    I pray God for your bright future.

    • Thank you, Kalpana. It made to shiver to imagine myself in her shoes and what it must be like to struggle when your child is in such imminent danger. Thank you for your lovely wishes.

  7. Hats off to Gurdev for this gesture. You have no idea how much your family will be blessed by the woman, Rachna.

    P.S. The answer to your last question is “No”. Never lose hope. You never know when an angel is around the corner, or in your case, in your own house 🙂

    • Thanks, Vishal. I really hope her kids are doing better now. The whole incident made us so very sad. To actually watch the apathy and the helplessness of a parent. It affected us. I do hope that government or NGOs do something. No country can progress if its poor are marginalized and dehumanised.

  8. I can only say that kindness shows in actions and not just in words. Hats off to your husband. He is indeed a kind soul and it is not easy. Cos there are so many questions hanging in there. What ifs and buts included.
    You are right about the value of life, the medical privileges that people have and have not. We are not a nation where government handles health care so we cannot even imagine what a poor family goes through in times of crisis. Thanks for sharing!
    Parul Thakur recently posted…An Open Letter to Honey SinghMy Profile

  9. That’s a wonderful gesture on your husband’s part. Growing up in India with my dad as a doctor, I realised much later how privileged I was when it came to healthcare. I still don’t know much about the healthcare system there but I do know that there’s not enough for the poor. My dad does subsidise fees for some people but I don’t know how much else happens.

    I like the system in Australia here where we have Medicare which means we can access general health services in public health for free or highly subsidised rates. And this is for everyone. Of course, depending on your earnings, you pay tax later but at least it’s for the good of society. Sadly, some political parties keep wanting to change it and go the way of the US to privatise healthcare. That to me, would result in what you mentioned — a lot of people missing out because they cannot afford it. It’s risking their lives through no fault of their own.
    Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life recently posted…10 things that made me happy {Week 20}My Profile

    • I hope it never becomes like what it is in the US. I lived there and really it is exorbitant with co-pays and all. If you lose your job, you are doomed. In that sense at least if you are middle class you may afford some healthcare in India even without medical insurance in India.

  10. Heart touching post, Rachna. In some way private hospitals should help the poor. This is my opinion.

  11. Respect Rachna to your husband who did a touching gesture. For me, this is kindness and humanity. The whole system needs to be changed and touch the underprivileged to achieve growth. Often, private hospitals over charge and there has been many instances when children have been turned down.
    Vishal Bheeroo recently posted…When Sunny Leone knocks out Bhupendra ChaubeyMy Profile

  12. That was very kind of you Rachna, and even in your own pain of your son to reach out to someone in a poor state. Super:-) Very moving post to read.. I guess the people working in the private hospitals are so used to seeing this, so they cant help everybody? Then thank god for kind people like yourself. Our health system here is quite different- we pay of our taxes of our salary, and it secures free treatment for everybody no matter what. So we have free healthcare and schools for all.
    Eli recently posted…Dare to leave your comfort soneMy Profile

    • I know, Eli. Europe’s public transport and healthcare are two sterling aspects of life among other things. In a third world country like India, decent healthcare for all is still a distant dream.

  13. You are right. Nothing connects parents more than their concern for their kids. Such a wonderfully thoughtful gesture by Gurudev. I cannot commend you guys enough for it.

    P.S. How is your son feeling now?
    Shantala recently posted…The Trouble with Rating Books | Diary of a Book BloggerMy Profile

  14. With the number of times I’ve been in and out of hospitals, Rachna, this is the one question that plagues me. Why can’t doctors be considerate about the fees with those that cannot afford it? Even for a sore throat, it is impossible to step out to see the doc without at least rs.1000 in hand – consultation + medication – with no assurance that one will recover.

    Very sad state – bad enough about the expense, but what I don’t get is why they’re treated like second class citizens. That’s another sore point with me.

    Kudos to your husband! We need more people like him and more doctors who will be compassionate and focus on healing, not the logistics.

    These are the times I regret giving up that seat in medical college. I try my best to give as much as I can to welfare homes’ medical expenses.

    Sigh. Hugs, thanks for writing about your experience.
    Vidya Sury recently posted…Compliments, Peanut butter and LaughterMy Profile

    • Yes, Vidya, we all are doing our small bits. But the situation is really so enormous. And no one seems to be paying any attention. Even private hospitals must not shirk away their social responsibility.

  15. I can imagine the emotional pain that poor mother must be going through. Your husband did the most noble thing in this situation. That mother’s gratitude perhaps knows no bounds!
    Healthcare in our country, especially affordable one, is in dire need of reform. Government hospitals are in such poor condition, for the most part. So many of them are understaffed, with poor facilities and bad hygiene.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Of Artist’s Ego, Art for Art’s Sake, Consciousness and More (a non-review of Katyar Kaljat Ghusali)My Profile

    • Yes, Beloo. Healthcare for the larger public is in such bad shape. And even people like us end up feeling fleeced so often. We really need urgent attention in this direction.

  16. Hats off to your husband. We need more compassionate and kind people like him, who not only make a difference in the lives of others but also give them hope. May his tribe increase. And here’s hoping that those kids are fine now. And your lil son is doing well too.
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…Writing Without the MuseMy Profile

  17. That makes me very sad too that doctors can act to callously! So grateful that good people like you and your husband were there at the right time, but you’re right; it really begs the question: what if you weren’t?!
    Roshni recently posted…Don’t judge a Bird by its Feathers #ReadYourWorldMy Profile

    • Yes, the larger question is what we all must ponder over. This was just one person we helped. There are so many who need our help and basically the system just treats them with great apathy.

  18. Heart Touching. Your husband is a great person. Hope we have such people all over. Thanks for sharing the story.
    Sapana recently posted…How to Brush Baby’s First Teeth?My Profile

  19. Read the post long back but couldn’t comment. Yes, you were naive to ask the doctors. Btw, I would also have thought like you and did the same. I am so happy and proud for what Gurudev did. My heart goes for mothers like that. How many of them need help out there and how few are people like you who happen to be there in time of need for them. Give my hugs to the little one….tell him to be more careful next time.

    • Thank you for saying it bluntly. Yes, I can be quite idealistic I realized but the real world does not function that way. Exactly my point. How many can we help? Thanks will do. He is much better now. In a couple of days, his stitches will be removed.

  20. I understand that at the end of the day even they have to make money and pay salaries, but given the way these private hospitals charge they could have done something on humanitarian grounds. I’m not asking them to tend to everyone free of charge, but when they take as much possible from those who afford it, they should have some consideration for those who aren’t as lucky as the others.
    Ashwini CN recently posted…Does everything happen for a reason?My Profile

  21. Human life matters very less especially when money is the primary motive. These days doctors in private hospitals are given targets to meet. So they prescribe more tests to be done so that the revenue per patient is higher. Like I used to have performance targets when I was in corporate world these doctors too have revenue targets including operation theatre occupancy etc etc. That is the reason you find these days any and every woman has a c-section during delivery.

    I feel so sad to see this mad race to extract money at any cost.
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  22. It’s instances like these that make us realise there’s so much we take for granted. When we have so much to feel thankful for, we prefer holding on to our little miseries and complain.
    Purba Ray recently posted…Women are from the Kitchen, Men are from I-can’tMy Profile

    • Absolutely, Purba. It disturbed me greatly. Like you pointed out how trivial our grievances feel when we have so much to be grateful for. When she was leaving with her children, she turned to touch my feet. I got tears in my eyes as I stopped her. As a mother, I coud sense her helplessness, sheer fright too. How totally alone she must have felt. It just shocks you out of your protected existence.

  23. “Perhaps because my own child was suffering or because I am not exposed to this on a daily basis, it affected me greatly.”

    This. This is the thing. As mothers, we tend to get affected by such incidents. Hospital staffs (especially private hospitals) need to be more human. Even I have seen some such cases that made me want to ask those people whether they would subject their own children to such behaviour. On the other side, I have had the privilege of meeting doctors as well as other hospital staff who have gone out of their ways to help the poor. So basically to me it seems that it is totally upto individuals and hospitals as to how they treat various sections of the society.
    Rekha recently posted…What Would You Want To Be When You Grow Up? #DoYourHomeworkMy Profile

    • True, Rekha. I am sure there are many good doctors too. But to see her almost beg for her children and yet no one cared was just too much for me to bear. How and when will we start working to provide basics to all our citizens?

  24. So wonderful of Gurudev to have done that…But you rightly point out the greater question…Don’t we care about the poor? We have life insurance and still crib about the costs f health care which no doubt is exorbitantly high…If we feel this way then imagine what the poor must go through..I feel so bad, so so bad
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…How The Man I Married Made Me Feel Grateful This WeekMy Profile

  25. It is really sad. “Human suffering/ monetary interest” . A depressing state.
    Wishing speedy recovery for your kido.
    swati bassi recently posted…Laughter and LoveMy Profile

  26. Fortunate is that family to come in contact with you and your hubby.

    Health insurance has become the need of the hour in every country and unfortunately the premiums are getting exorbitant for the lower class to bear… I think the government should look into this as well 😛

    Prayers for that family and wah jee wah to your’s 🙂
    xoxo

  27. Udayashankar on January 29, 2016 at 5:41 am said:

    Kudos to you both for the wonderful gesture,..

    I believe A Good Human being is the one, who at times of distress, places himself in others shoes and act wisely…

  28. A very heart warming post that I know such kind hearted people like you who went out of way to help the needy. I am sure a few more Good Samaritans like your husband can make this world a better place!

    • True that, Rahul. But we don’t have the means to help everyone out. I am sure there are many who do the same. But the larger issue is that the government has to work at a feverish pace to do something about this.

  29. Sad but that’s the truth of private hospitals these days.. You guys did a great job.. Hope this world changes for a better..

  30. mohamed on February 3, 2016 at 10:06 pm said:

    we pay service tax and vat every time we visit a restaurant and government is least bothered whether restaurants are providing unadulterated food by carrying checks through food inspectors. our country is full of TAKERS and not GIVERS.if you ask same poor people to vote for you if you are contesting assembly or lok sabha election,they won’t vote for you coz they have their own weaknesses like caste,regional feeling and money to cast vote.

    so everyone is a culprit in a country like india. corporate hospitals will question you ” why should they help when TAKER indian government is least bothered about its people after collecting taxes”.

    we can’t rub someone’s responsibility on other in the name of humanity,its never a solution or wrong way to do things. to be frank ,,india has failed as a nation.no water,no roads,no healthcare.we see republic day parade filled with rogues who spend lavish life with our taxes.

    you can’t pay everyone’s medical bill and people who took your help won’t be able to vote for good people and rogue politicians will thrash anyone who wants to contest and police will be mute spectators when someone is getting killed. govt hospitals send poor people to private diagnostic centres after taking commission though they are given funds to have basic infrastructure to carry out ecg , x-ray ,blood test. its just a country of rogues who prey on each other without mercy.

    high court has asked people to stop paying taxes if government fails to meet our demands.you are naive to ask a prvt hospital doc to do something,it tells you don’t have exposure to real world.

  31. mohamed on February 3, 2016 at 10:08 pm said:

    we pay service tax and vat every time we visit a restaurant and government is least bothered whether restaurants are providing unadulterated food by carrying checks through food inspectors. our country is full of TAKERS and not GIVERS.if you ask same poor people to vote for you if you are contesting assembly or lok sabha election,they won’t vote for you coz they have their own weaknesses like caste,regional feeling and money to cast vote.

    so everyone is a culprit in a country like india. corporate hospitals will question you ” why should they help when TAKER indian government is least bothered about its people after collecting taxes”.

    we can’t rub someone’s responsibility on other in the name of humanity,its never a solution or wrong way to do things. to be frank ,,india has failed as a nation.no water,no roads,no healthcare.we see republic day parade filled with rogues who spend lavish life with our taxes.

    you can’t pay everyone’s medical bill and people who took your help won’t be able to vote for good people and rogue politicians will thrash anyone who wants to contest and police will be mute spectators when someone is getting killed. govt hospitals send poor people to private diagnostic centres after taking commission though they are given funds to have basic infrastructure to carry out ecg , x-ray ,blood test. its just a country of rogues who prey on each other without mercy.

    high court has asked people to stop paying taxes if government fails to meet their demands.you are naive to ask a prvt hospital doc to do something,it tells you don’t have exposure to real world.

  32. First off, it is not naive to expect a Human being to behave humanely, I would do that too. Also really awesome what your husband did. I am working on something new, inspired by people like him. They are a rare breed of people these days.
    Jaibala Rao recently posted…The New Age BullyMy Profile

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