Volunteers escort poor patients from Koraput to hospitals

Koraput: In a bid to ensure hassle-free treatment of ailing people, the Koraput district administration in Odisha has launched a scheme of sending volunteers with poor patients going to hospitals within the state and outside.

The aim is to ensure those patients, particularly belonging to the lower-income group and below poverty line, who are referred to medical institutions, don’t face any problem in getting themselves admitted, district sources said.

Officials said the administration’s move followed a recent review of referred patients belonging to economically weaker sections, which revealed that a majority of them faced difficulties at referral medical institutions due to their ignorance and lack of exposure to outside world.

In some cases, patients didn’t prefer to go to the referred hospitals, fearing exploitation, they said.

“The volunteers are helping patients getting admitted to the referred hospital and looking after their treatment,” said Collector (Koraput) Yamini Sarangi.

“While travelling expenses of the patient and one of his/her attendant are borne by the chief minister’s relief fund, the conveyance expenses of the volunteers are met by the district Red Cross fund,” Sarangi said.

The patients are given Rs 500 for each day’s stay at the referred hospitals on miscellaneous expenditure head, the Collector said.

The administration has roped in a local voluntary organisation SOVA to provide volunteers to accompany the patients to medical institutions in Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Berhampur, Burla and Cuttack, Sarangi said.

Stationed at the help desk of the district headquarters hospital, the volunteers also coordinate with patients after they are discharged.

Th scheme was launched in November. Till December 4, around 90 referral patients were accompanied by volunteers to the referred hospitals, according to official figures.

“Patients in groups are being escorted to their referred hospitals concerned three times a week. Emergency patients are sent on the same day accompanied by volunteers,” said secretary of SOVA Sanjit Patnaik.

The organisation has stationed one volunteer each in Berhampur, Cuttack and Visakhapatnam to look after treatment of the patients.