Chandigarh Patient Group Meeting

Sep 7 2006

{mosimage} On September 9th, 2006 Chandigarh was a freshly quenched town after a morning rain. Two patient volunteers, along with the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), had arranged an amazing patient group meeting in only a short 10 days. A high level of anticipation could be felt in the room as the MaxIndia team and I entered. The crowd of about 180-plus patients and their family members stood before us. Many of them had traveled from great distances for this meeting. Some had come from as far as Jammu and Kashmir, the hills of Himachal Pradesh and Dharamshala and were meeting each other for the first time. Dr. Pankaj Malhotra and Dr. Ashok greeted everyone with warm welcomes and we directly proceeded into the meeting.

First, the team was introduced. The patient’s were very excited to meet Dr. Pallavi for the first time. Many of them knew her only by phone. She informed everyone of her move to Delhi and how she would be available as the MaxIndia’s representative in the North.

Next, all patients were invited to come in front of the audience and share their name, where they are from, and how long they have been on treatment. One by one, they trickled to the front and their responses were as varied as their personalities: from shy and timid to boisterous and extroverted. It was an amazing experience to hear each story of how each life had been transformed by this disease. It was an opportunity for people to not only share with each other common and rare experiences but to build a sense of comradeship and remind them that they are not alone.

Many patients were so shy and soft-spoken but were encouraged when Dr Pankaj and Viji offered to help them by either translating their Punjabi or conveying to the listening audience what they wished to say. So it was in the form of little interviews in front of their peers that many patients ended up by sharing their stories.

PGI, being a public institution, has many patients. This does not always allow sufficient time to build the patient-physician relationship. This patient group meeting allowed patients to ask Dr. Malhotra questions, both medical and otherwise, and allowed them to spend some quality time with him. It was a great experience to see this bond deepen.

After the introductions, a lunch was served to the patients. This provided an informal setting for patients to get to know one another, and also for the MaxIndia team and physicians to interact with the patients. Once again, before my eyes patient bonds were being formed and laughter could easily be heard.

Overall, the Chandigarh patient group meeting was a great success. Many new friendships were formed and a sense of community was built. Our many thanks go to those who made it possible and those who participated to make this a wonderful and fruitful event. We took the evening train back to Delhi, in time for the patient meeting the following day.