“𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑣𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑎𝑔𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑎 𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑢𝑠.”, said Anushya as we were driving towards Narayanapuram, 15 kms from Vellore. Anusha and Hannah are community nurses working in the College of Nursing. They both studied nursing at CMC. “𝐹𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑟𝑑 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟, 𝑤𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑔𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑛 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑛 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑣𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑡𝑦. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑏𝑒𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑤𝑒 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑠.” Hannah explained.
The CONCH (𝐶𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑔𝑒 𝑂𝑓 𝑁𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝐶𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝐻𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑡ℎ) programme reaches out to people in 25 rural villages and parts of urban Vellore. The students, supervised by nurses with years of experience, get to know the community over many months. They provide home care to people across the life span, starting with young mothers, pregnant women and babies. They also look after the children, adults with chronic illnesses and the elderly. Regular nurse led clinic are set up in the local community centre. Patients needing further care are referred to CHAD, LCECU or CMC.
Narayanapuram is a quaint little village with a huge mountain on one side. As we walked along, some women eagerly joined us to share the village gossip with Hannah and Anushya. With their bright teal green sarees, the nurses blended in with the villagers. I met Pachaiamma, the village Dai*. She had watched and assisted her mother conduct deliveries since the age of twelve. Because of this experience, CONCH had chosen and trained her to handle deliveries safely and efficiently. Over the years she has conducted more than 350 home births.
Now in her mid-fifties, Pachaiamma is proud that she still cares for mothers and babies in her community. She was on her way to a young mother’s home and we tagged along. While she gave a hot bath for the little one, the father of the child said with pride, “𝑃𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑎𝑚𝑚𝑎 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑛. 𝐼𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑒𝑒 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑚𝑦 𝑤𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑑𝑟𝑒𝑛 𝑡𝑜𝑜”.
I left the village that day with a glimpse of the huge rapport CONCH has with the community. The relationship is deep and built over many years. This has been crucial over the last few weeks as CONCH has been driving the COVID vaccination programme in their area. The years of trust they have built with the local people has helped convince the rural community to take the vaccine. Till date 814 (as on 9 July 2021) people have been vaccinated through their efforts in the Kannigapuram Outreach Centre, CMC, Vellore.
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*𝐷𝐴𝐼 – 𝑇𝑟𝑎𝑑𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝐵𝑖𝑟𝑡ℎ 𝐴𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑎𝑛𝑡
Pictures and details contributed by College of Nursing and CONCH