Where humans need more than medicine –  A tribal hospital with empathy and a leadership lesson


Colourful wall paintings in a tribal hospital
Colourful wall paintings in a tribal hospital
 We all know that staying in a hospital is not really fun. Staying in a poor hospital in the very rural areas in South India is even worse. There are many challenges to overcome and it is too easy to criticize what is missing and what should be done.  But not everything depends on money only. 

Doctors who engage 

During our last visit and leadership week which we run regularly in the tribal areas in South India we were impressed by the high level of engagement of the doctors on how they work and care about their patients. Often more than ten hours a day and even in their free time they have set up a mobile clinic. They go to the villages and visit patients who can not join the hospital on their own. 

Most of the patients are tribal people from the villages around. The financial means are very limited. But step by step the doctors build on what is there, in terms of machines and treatment possibilities, but also in building trust and making people feel better. And they have a very direct relation to their patients. 

For sure, there are many medical devices they could need. When I asked them they agree, but they told me, too: “Yes, there is a always need for more devices and diagnosis, but besides the pure medical need there is the human one: Our patients never come alone. During the entire stay in the hospital there are at least one or two relatives or friends with them. They want to stay together. We think this helps the patients to feel more comfortable. It supports the healing process. If we had some choice we would invest to make their stay more enjoyable. Indians love colours and storytelling. But our patient rooms look desolated.” 

We proceed and the doctors show the children ward. Indeed, the walls are empty and the simple beds somehow look very sad.  

Today we got some pictures.

During our Leadership week for managers onsite we had collected some money from our group. For the wall paintings. To bring some joy into the rooms. Nothing big, but ‘human’. 

Happy elephants
Happy elephants

It is a small thing, we know. But also small things make change happen. For all of us. It’s about taking the initiative, thinking beyond papers, listening and combining human/social aspects and business. 

I think we are at least as happy as the patients who can now enjoy the stories and colours on the walls and hopefully, very soon, will be healthy enough to go back to their villages again. 

Social thinking and acting makes a difference and I look forward to visiting the hospital soon again. 

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