For a cancer patient and their family, temporary migration to Mumbai for treatment can be a daunting task, specially with fear of the complex disease, expensive accommodation and over-crowded hospital wards. Set to be the first-of-its-kind pilot programme which will be launched in August, the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) is preparing to ease all such cancer patients’ treatment woes through a programme named ‘Kevat’.
“Just like a boatman connects passengers from one shore to another, Kevat will become focal point for all patient-related problems. They will connect patients with doctors, NGOs, and sponsors,” said Dr Rajan Badwe, director of the Tata Memorial Centre, who came up with the idea.
The hospital is starting a six-month academic course with 15 seats for social workers, sociology and psychology graduates, and health workers in exclusive cancer-care management. The programme will run in collaboration with S P Jain Institute of Management and Dr Reddy’s Foundation on a pilot basis at TMH. “It is a scalable model. Once we start churning out trained Kevats, we may expand it under National Cancer Grid for other hospitals,” said Nishu Singh Goel, project consultant at the hospital.
The ‘patient navigator’ or Kevat will become an umbrella for 34 NGOs attached with TMH. If a patient requires funds for treatment, Kevat will route requests to appropriate donors, or connect patient to cheap or free housing options during the course of treatment. “Even if a patient has doubts about treatment and medication or needs counselling over effects of radiation or chemotherapy, the Kevat will provide personalised interaction,” said Dr Vinit Samant, assistant medical superintendent.
Following a six-month diploma course in which students will be taught what cancer is, how different its treatment is from other diseases, about palliative care and what are the general issues concerning a patient, an internship will be offered at TMH for field work. “We will hold rounds of interviews and tests to select candidates. We are hopeful that over the years we will have several Kevats,” added Samant.
The hospital receives over 70,000 patients each year for cancer. A doctor roughly consults over 150 patients in a day and may not have time to give specifics of entire treatment. Nurses and social workers form a supporting staff for these patients. According to Dr Kailash Sharma, director of academics, the hospital has an existing mechanism of help desk and scattered NGOs. “But a patient does not know whom to approach. All the problems that a doctor can’t be reached for, Kevat will have a task force to connect such dots,” Sharma said.
The hospital also plans to build a regular team of translators for benefit of patients from the North-East India.
“Even palliative care is important. There will be communication module for them to convey a bad news to family and to ensure end-of-life-care management is smoothly done,” he added.