Gagan Bharti Tells Us How This Little Hanuman’s Life Was Saved Through Charity Beds
- IWB Post
- October 11, 2017
Did you know that there are beds reserved for the Economically Weaker Sections in private hospitals? Well, trust me, before I spoke to Charity Beds’ Gagan Bharti, I reacted in the same way.
Not many of us know that 43 private hospitals were sold acres of land by the Delhi Government on an important condition: it asked for reserving a percentage of hospital beds for the poor. In 2011, the Supreme Court declared that these hospitals were to set aside 25% of their OPD and 10% of beds for the EWS (Economically Weaker Sections).
Enter Kapil Chopra. Five years ago, the President of Oberoi Group came up with Charity Beds, an initiative that aims at giving the underprivileged people medical aid at private hospitals.
Kapil’s inspiration was his father, Dr. Ashok Kumar Chopra. Of course, many hospitals didn’t comply with the court orders as they were not kept a check on.
I spoke to Gagan Bharti, the Manager of Charity Beds to dig further.
Me: Do the underprivileged get treated the same way as the people who can afford their medication?
Gagan: More or less, yeah. The doctors never discriminate; however, sometimes some people from the staff may retaliate. You will almost never see any patient being given the wrong advice because they come from a financially handicapped background.
Me: Who else works with Charity Beds?
Gagan: Mr. Lalit Kumar, the Director of Charity Beds, also handles the charitable clinic, that is run in the memory of Dr. Ashok Kumar Chopra, Mr. Kapil Chopra’s late father. After his father passed away, he wanted the clinic to be open to all, and while Mr. Kapil appointed a whole staff to treat at the charitable clinic, he made sure that everyone’s salary was paid on time. And that’s where Mr. Lalit Kumar enters. He regulates the payments, amongst other things.
Me: Is the medication 100% funded?
Gagan: Yeah, 100%
Me: One survival story that deeply touched your heart?
Gagan: It was about three-four years ago when Shagun’s father who is a vegetable seller called me. He could barely speak and started crying. “My daughter will die, please save her. I’m a vegetable seller, I can’t afford to keep her alive.”
I developed a sort of affection towards the family. His daughter had a hole in her heart and had to be operated immediately. She was taken to the Fortis Escorts Hospital, and the surgery took place soon. He saw me again a couple of years later when he recommended one of his relatives to get in touch with me.
He showed me a picture of Shagun and said, “It’s only because of Charity Beds that my daughter is still alive, or she really would have been long dead.”
The incident brought tears to my eyes.
I’m not crying, no. It’s ninjas cutting onions.
Me: How do you create awareness about Charity Beds? I don’t think many people know about this.
Gagan: You didn’t know about it either, did you?
Me: Honestly, no, and that’s why the question came to my mind!
Gagan: Well you’re right. Most of the people don’t know that the underprivileged have a right to access even five-star hospital properties as a percentage of hospital beds are reserved for them in advance. We go to slums, government hospitals, and everywhere we can and distribute pamphlets.
But wait, just distribution of pamphlets doesn’t help. You need to make sure that they are explained. Otherwise, many don’t even read the pamphlets.
Me: How does Charity Beds intend to expand outside of Delhi?
Gagan: Well, the prime motive is to spread within Delhi, and create a space where no beds are left unoccupied.
Me: How can people associate with Charity Beds as volunteers?
Gagan: A lot of students from different colleges in Delhi, come and perform the social work. During that time, they learn a lot, and as I said, get to know things about the EWS that they had no idea about.
Me: Is there any paperwork involved to be able to qualify to get treated in a private hospital?
Gagan: Private hospitals often ask for a BPL card, or a food security card (FSC). When a patient comes in for an emergency, they are either supposed to present one of these cards or give a self-declaration, as per which, they have to submit the document within 24 hours. It’s really a simple process.
Me: One miracle story that still gives you goosebumps?
Gagan: It was 2 a.m. when I got a call. Fortunately, I heard the ringer and answered my phone. An 8-9 month-old baby was suffering from Pneumonia. They were intimidated by the big hospitals and thought they’d be kicked out, or not get attended if they visited the hospital themselves.
I tried to get them a bed, and a very kind woman at the hospital got the girl admitted. She was successfully treated. The doctor then informed the infant’s father that had he waited until the morning, the child would’ve died.
So, it’s moments like these when I really feel lucky to be associated with Charity Beds.
Me: A one-liner from a patient that filled you with hope?
Gagan: Okay, so there was this little kid called Dheeraj. He was 7-year-old and had a hole in his heart. When they visited the hospital, he was shying away from me, and later on 10th Jan, he was successfully operated.
When I visited again, this time he recognized me and said, “Gagan bhaiya, main theek ho gaya!”
He pretended to be Hanuman to show that he was healthy now.
Gagan tells me that the aim of his life is to help someone in life. He says, “We often get offered huge sums of charity, but we refuse, no we do not accept charity. If you wish to contribute to Charity Beds in any way, please print us some pamphlets. And, that’s all we need. To spread some awareness.”