Published: 16th February 2020
This hospital in Kerala treats differently-abled children free of charge
NIMS Spectrum offers special needs children under the age of 18 with a range of specialised programmes and therapeutic care
It was when he turned 5 that Aadith N Ratheesh’s parents started to grow concerned. While his classmates would recite the Malayalam alphabets, their child struggled even to say the words ‘Amma’ and ‘Acha’. This was when someone recommended a visit to NIMS Spectrum. They say, “We realised that our son needed speech therapy but was afraid that we couldn’t afford it. He’s been undergoing therapy for over a year now. His entire cycle has changed. When he concentrates, he is able to speak words clearly!”
NIMS Medicity, a multispecialty hospital in Trivandrum set up Spectrum, a Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services on December 3, 2019. The initiative was aimed towards supporting differently-abled children by offering their facilities to differently-abled children who come from underprivileged backgrounds free of charge. Managing Director of NIMS, MS Faisal Khan says, "Since we implemented this programme, we have been able to help 124 children and their families."
The therapy programmes and rehabilitation services offered by the hospital includes 12 sub-divisions which includes Child Development Therapy, Behavioral Therapy and Special Education, Audiology and Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Autistic Physiotherapy, Autistic Orthopedics, Pediatrics, etc. The initiative was a joint decision by the staff and management of the hospital when they realised that the medical industry in Kerala was sorely lacking in such therapeutic care. They expanded the facilities that the hospital already offered to accomodate the specific needs of such children.
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The programme was introduced with the concept: 'We give all we have and take what you give'. The special billing policy that has been formulated for the first time under the Spectrum project states that any special needs child below the age of 18 will have optional billing. Faisal Khan says, "Though we bill them a general amount of Rupees 300, we will take only what they are able to give or will assist them if they have no money to offer at all."
The initiative also stands apart because they have introduced a number of programme that are not available for special needs children in many medical centres in Kerala. For instance, the Occupation Therapy department which was set up for this project alone, also offers programmes such as sensory integration. Refai Abdul Raheem, Coordinator of the project says, "The sensory integration programme is for newborn children. Sometimes there is a difficulty to identify if their eyes have been fully formed or their necks have grown sturdy enough, we ease this process through therapy. Another department, Activities of Daily Living supports children who may not know how to put on a shirt or even brush their teeth."
The project was set up with three major rules in mind. Faisal Khan elaborates, "No pictures of the children can be used to in any of our materials. We have seen such initiatives losing steam because they use these children like tokens for empathy. Who would like to see their child being paraded around like that? Secondly, we take no funds from outside the hospital itself and finally, we leave it up to the parents to choose how they want to pay us for our services." Currently, the team behind Spectrum is focused on spreading the word about their programme and supporting more families through it.