Gauri Kaul Foundation | Two years of saving lives and transforming healthcare in J&K

The Gauri Kaul Foundation (GKF) has been instrumental in improving healthcare facilities in the Jammu and Kashmir region
The general findings of these camps revealed that non-communicable diseases are a growing concern, even in remote areas of the Union Territory.
The general findings of these camps revealed that non-communicable diseases are a growing concern, even in remote areas of the Union Territory. Special arrangement

The Gauri Kaul Foundation (GKF) is a non-profit organization founded by its Director Upendra Kaul in memory of his late mother, Mrs. Gauri Kaul. The foundation was established two years ago on April 13th, following camps conducted in remote areas of six districts in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as one in Mumbra, Thane district in Maharashtra, and one in Kakchin, Manipur near the Myanmar border.

These camps were carried out under the banner of the Gauri Healthy Heart Mission, starting on World Heart Day on September 29th, 2020. The local administration, as well as Health and Finance Commissioner Sh. Atal Dulloo, provided their support for this initiative.

The primary objective was to assess the prevalence of heart problems, hypertension, and diabetes control among patients receiving treatment in remote areas of several districts in Jammu and Kashmir.

The general findings of these camps revealed that non-communicable diseases are a growing concern, even in remote areas of the Union Territory.

Patients attending peripheral centres and district hospitals had uncontrolled hypertension, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and diabetes, which are major issues leading to heart attacks, paralytic strokes, heart failure, and premature deaths.

The foundation believes that voluntary non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should complement the work being done by the state machinery. These findings were published in the official journal of the Cardiological Society of India, the Indian Heart Journal, in November 2022.

The foundation has several initiatives aimed at improving healthcare and supports research in healthcare. Additionally, the GKF advocates for policies and programs that provide heart health education programs.

Our VISION is to provide world class health care to people in need especially those from under-privileged backgrounds at an affordable cost.

The MISSION being to provide access to high quality health care, health education and research. GKF is guided by a set of Core VALUES that shape its operations.

These are COMPASSION, empathy and kindness towards all. EQUITY, health care system accessible to all. 

EXCELLENCE, in all aspects of its operations. 

INTEGRITY, maintenance of high ethical standard.

COLLABORATION, partnership with likeminded organizations and individuals.

INNOVATION, adopting new and effective tools for improving healthcare and SUPPORT Screening programs to screen for risk factors as a part of outreach activities.

One of the significant impacts of the GKF’s efforts have been to provide state of art treatment being provided to thousands of patients in Kashmir who otherwise had to spend lot of money and time to go outside Kashmir for seeking treatment. In addition, we have been providing holistic health care for senior citizens. Thousands of patients are enjoying free telehealth facilities of the GKF. Our ways of achieving our goals have been to establish 4 state of art centres in different parts of the UT.

GAURI HEART CENTRE (GHC): It is a modern and well-equipped medical centre that focuses on providing complete cardiac care to patients suffering from heart diseases and risk factors leading to vascular events like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol and triglycerides. All the facilities for non-invasive cardiology with state of art equipment’s are located under one roof. It runs every day and has 3 full time cardiologists with support technical and nursing staff. The centre offers a wide range of blood tests and also offers specialized blood tests, including genetic testing and tumour marker tests.

The introduction of cardiac biomarkers by GKF in its “No Heart Attack Mission” has been a game-changer in the early detection and diagnosis of heart diseases. These markers have aided in the appropriate and immediate diagnosis of cardiac emergencies like heart attacks and heart failure. To this effect we routinely do D-Dimer (for detecting enhanced clotting process in the body), NT-proBNP for early detection of heart failure and differentiating it from other causes of cough and shortness of breath. In addition, we do quantitative troponin estimation to diagnose damage to heart because of an impending heart attack at its earliest and institute treatment then and there. The high-risk cases are sent to city hospitals in our ambulance if needed.

One of the unique features of the Gauri Heart Centre is its exclusive treatment for senior citizens. The centre offers a dedicated program for the elderly population that includes a comprehensive evaluation of their medical history, physical examination, and routine diagnostic tests to determine their cardiovascular health. The program is designed to provide holistic health care to the elderly, including nutritional counselling, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. The comprehensive care for the senior citizen includes, OPD consultation, Telehealth, Intravenous infusion therapy of fluids and drugs. In addition, we also provide pain and palliative therapy. The program for senior citizen is led by Dr Zubair Saleem, a noted physician specialized in disease of the elderly (Geriatric Medicine).

Gauri Heart Centre is thus a one-stop-shop for all cardiac care needs for all ages including the health of senior citizens, providing patients with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities, and a range of blood tests to ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. In this year between April 2022 and March 2023, a total of 3821 patients have been seen and evaluated at the GHC using appropriate investigations.

PRASAD JOO KHAN HEALTH CENTRE, Hawal, Rajpora, Dist Pulwama.

It is located on the Mughal Road about 45 Kms from Srinagar and is surrounded by a plethora of villages, Hawal used to be a picturesque village in the 1940s, with snow-clad mountains and several streams originating from these mountains. The village used to be inaccessible during winters and had no medical facility, electricity, or toilets in homes. Now it has good connectivity, however much more needs to be done in the health sector.

The Legacy of Prasad Joo Khan: The Man Who Built a Supermarket in Hawl.

Prasad Joo Khan, born in 1883 in the village of Hawal in then Pulwama Tehsil, was initially employed in a mission of land demarcation in the valley in the early 1900s. However, he eventually lost interest in the job and opened a small general store in the village of Hawl and made it a supermarket of its time. This store sold everything from hardware and cloth to tea leaves and common medicines, and people from neighbouring villages would also come to buy things from this shop. Prasad Joo was known for his generosity and hospitality, entertaining Sadhus and well-known personalities of his time. He was very good at reading and writing Urdu and Persian. He passed away in 1965 at the age of 82, leaving behind a legacy of seven sons and three daughters. Dr U Kaul is his grandson.

Heart Centre:

The clinic is the result of a deep study of non-communicable disease patterns across several districts of Jammu and Kashmir. The aim of the centre is simple yet profound: “No More Heart Attacks”.

With specialized care for patients suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, the Prasad Joo Khan Heart Centre is a beacon of hope for those who seek a healthier, happier life at their doorstep for getting benefitted from this exceptional facility. The centre besides heart care has multi-speciality services available which are planned to be extended to trauma, obstetrics and Gynaecology etc.

The Gauri Old Age Mission, also associated with this centre, provides exclusive treatment to senior citizens, ensuring that their golden years are filled with comfort and care.

At the Prasad Joo Khan Heart Centre, cutting-edge non-invasive cardiology equipment is available thanks to the generous contribution of ONGC under its Corporate Social Responsibility program. This state-of-the-art equipment, coupled with the expertise of the highly trained medical staff, ensures that patients receive the best possible care. All the equipment available in our Srinagar heart centre has been procured along with facilities to keep running electric power in view of frequent power failures especially in winter months. All the blood tests including the point of care bio-markers are available for a prompt diagnosis and initiating of treatment. The centre also draws patients from districts of Shopian and Kulgam. Thus, catering to a population of around 15 lacks. Till the end of March 2023, we had seen and evaluated 1499 patients in this centre.

But what truly sets this clinic apart is its commitment to preserving the memory the grand old man, who still provokes nostalgic memories for the people of that region. It is a tribute to a man who believed in the power of healing and the importance of giving back to the community. It is a shining example of what can be achieved when knowledge, compassion, and generosity come together. It is a place of hope, healing, and inspiration – a beacon of light in the fight against heart disease.

Revolutionising Rural Healthcare: GKF’s State-of-the-Art Telehealth Units

The rural and difficult areas of Jammu and Kashmir face several challenges in accessing quality healthcare services. The lack of adequate healthcare facilities and infrastructure makes it difficult for patients to receive medical attention, especially in areas that are cut off due to harsh weather conditions. However, the introduction of telehealth by GKF, has revolutionised the healthcare system in these areas, bringing quality healthcare closer to the people who need it the most.

Thanks to the support of IOCL and ONGC, GKF was able to establish three telehealth units. Two of the units were financed by IOCL, while the other was established under ONGC’s CSR program. The impact of these units was immediately felt in the community. The telehealth units have been strategically placed in areas that are difficult to access and have limited healthcare infrastructure.

Machil: The border area of Kupwara District

One of the telehealth units is located in the Machil border area of district Kupwara, which is cut off from the rest of the world for four months due to heavy snow and harsh weather conditions. The telehealth unit, operational in the Sahi Memorial Army Hospital, has been a game-changer in providing quality healthcare services to the people of the area. The collaboration with Army (RR-56) has been very useful for operating it. The unit is also supported by a patient transport ambulance provided under CSR by IOCL. In the year under study 463 consultations were done for the people of surrounding villages in this sector. Sahi memorial hospital besides using the telemedicine system provided by GKF has set up a small indoor facility during this year with health care personnel being posted there. In the last year a total of 463 consultations have been done there.

Jagti Migrant Township, Jammu

The second telehealth unit is located in Jagti township in Jammu, primarily serving the Kashmiri Pandit migrants. The unit has made it possible for patients in the area to access specialised healthcare services without having to travel long distances to the city. This has not only saved time and effort but has also made quality healthcare more accessible to people who would otherwise have difficulty accessing it. Helpline Humanity, an NGO, is our partner there.

Prasad Joo Khan Heart Centre

The third telehealth unit is located in Prasad Joo Khan Heart Centre, Hawl, catering to the rural population of South Kashmir. The unit drains patients from neighbouring districts of Shopian and Kulgam. The telehealth unit has enabled the people of the area to access quality healthcare services without having to travel long distances to the city. This has made healthcare more affordable and accessible, especially for those who are financially challenged.

The efforts of IOCL and ONGC in sponsoring these units have made quality healthcare services more accessible to people who need them the most. These telehealth units have not only improved healthcare outcomes but have also brought hope and relief to the people of the area.

Providing Comprehensive Care for Seniors: Gauri Old Age Mission Facilities

Gauri Old Age Mission, we understand the importance of ensuring that our seniors receive the best possible care and attention as they age. That’s why we offer a range of services that are designed to cater to their specific needs. These facilities include:

OPD consultations, which allow elderly individuals to have access to geriatric specialist (specialist of old-age diseases) for check-ups and general health advice.

Home-based care (HBC) services, which can be a great relief for older individuals who may have difficulty travelling to a clinic or hospital.

Telehealth is another service provided by the mission, which allows elderly individuals to consult with geriatric specialist remotely, making healthcare more accessible and convenient for them.

Vaccinations for the elderly: In recognition of the importance of vaccination for older adults, the Gauri Old Age Mission has also developed a vaccination protocol specifically for the elderly population, ensuring that they receive the vaccines they need to stay healthy.

Pain and palliative care is yet another service offered by the mission, which can be essential for elderly individuals who may be dealing with chronic pain or other conditions that require specialized care.

IV infusion therapy which can be crucial for older individuals who need intravenous medications or fluids.

Gauri Old Age Mission thus aims to provide our seniors with the care and support that they need to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. We are committed to ensuring that all of our patients receive the highest possible standard of care, and we are here to support them every step of the way.

Promoting Medical Innovation: The Gauri Research Centre

While touring in the picturesque rural Kashmir, a group of healthcare professionals of the GKF and associated medical researchers came together with a dream to provide healthcare services to all levels of society in Kashmir. The founder of GKF and his team knew that providing healthcare alone was not enough. His team believed that medical research was crucial for improving healthcare outcomes, and so they established the Gauri Research Centre. Ms Priyadarshani Arambam and her team were instrumental in initiating and executing this program along with Dr Zubair Saleem.

The Centre is registered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India, and aims to give a boost to medical research in Kashmir. The centre is equipped with modern facilities and staffed with highly qualified researchers, who are passionate about improving healthcare outcomes in the region.

Medical research is especially important in Kashmir, where the population faces a unique set of health challenges. The region has a high prevalence of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory illnesses. These diseases are often exacerbated by factors such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and the harsh weather conditions in the region.

The Research Centre focuses on conducting research on these diseases, with the aim of developing evidence-based treatment and prevention strategies. The Centre also is in the process of collaborating with other research institutions and universities, to share knowledge and resources.

The Centre also played a crucial role in promoting public awareness about various health issues through organising workshops, seminars, and awareness programs. The Gauri Research Centre is committed to academic excellence, and their dedication to research has resulted in several noteworthy achievements. One such accomplishment was their study on the pattern of diseases in rural Kashmir, which was published in the prestigious Indian Heart Journal.

The findings of the study were significant, as they shed light on the unique challenges faced by rural communities in Kashmir when it comes to managing these diseases. The study revealed a high prevalence of hypertension and diabetes, especially among the elderly population, and highlighted the very high prevalence of un controlled hypertension and diabetes. Thus, highlighting a need for targeted interventions to address these health issues. The publication of this study in the Indian Heart Journal was a testament to the quality of research conducted at the Gauri Research Centre.

Gauri Research Centre’s Impactful Training Programs

Gauri Research Centre, the research wing of GKF, has been a catalyst in promoting knowledge dissemination and capacity building through its various workshops and training programs. The centre has collaborated with several healthcare institutions to conduct specialised programs that aim to enhance the quality of healthcare delivery.

Caring for Dementia: A Workshop on Effective Management Strategies

One of the most significant programs conducted by the centre is Dementia Management for health workers at Kashmir Clinics South. The program was designed to equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills required to manage patients suffering from dementia. Through this program, the centre aimed to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical implementation of dementia management.

From Care to Compassion: A Comprehensive Approach to Geriatric Care

Another program conducted by the centre in collaboration with Kashmir Clinics was Geriatric Care for nurses and paramedics. The program focused on providing specialised training to healthcare professionals in geriatric care, which is an area of healthcare that requires a unique set of skills and knowledge.

Age with Grace: A Holistic Training Program for Healthy Aging

The centre also conducted various programs on Healthy Ageing for senior citizens in collaboration with Kashmir Clinics group. The program aimed to promote healthy ageing by providing senior citizens with the necessary knowledge and skills required to maintain good physical and mental health.

Beyond Exhaustion: Understanding and Addressing Caregiver Burnout

To address the issue of caregiver burnout, the centre conducted a program for caregivers of senior citizens at home in collaboration with Kashmir Clinics. The program aimed to equip caregivers with the necessary knowledge and skills required to manage stress and prevent burnout.

Prioritising Women’s Health: Cervical Cancer Screening Camp

In collaboration with Amity University, the centre conducted a Cervical Cancer Screening Camp at JLNM Hospital. The camp aimed to promote early diagnosis and detection of cervical cancer, which is a major public health concern.

GKF’s Partnerships with Key Organizations to Improve Access to Care

The Gauri Kaul Foundation (GKF) has been instrumental in improving healthcare facilities in the Jammu and Kashmir region. One of the key factors in achieving this has been the partnerships and collaborations that GKF has formed with various organisations. These partnerships have enabled GKF to expand its reach and impact, and improve the quality of healthcare services provided to the people of the region. The most important partnerships have been with IOCL, ONGC, Astra Zeneca, Amity University, and Kashmir Clinics.

Investing in Health: GKF and IOCL’s Joint Commitment to Improving Lives

The first partnership is with IOCL, which has supported GKF’s efforts to provide telehealth services to the people of the region. IOCL has provided funding for the installation of telehealth units in various locations, which allow patients to connect with healthcare professionals remotely. This has been especially beneficial for people living in remote areas, who may not have easy access to healthcare facilities. With the support of IOCL, GKF has been able to extend its reach and provide healthcare services to more people.

A Promising Partnership: GKF and ONGC Tackle Health Challenges Together

The second partnership is with ONGC, which has provided equipment for the Prasad Joo Khan Heart Centre. The Heart Centre is a state-of-the-art facility that provides advanced cardiac care to patients in the region. With the support of ONGC, GKF has been able to equip the Heart Centre with the latest technology and equipment, which has improved the quality of care provided to patients.

Innovative Partnerships: GKF and Amity University Collaborate for Health Impact

The third partnership is with Amity University, which has collaborated with GKF to organise research camps. These camps bring together experts in the field of healthcare research to share their knowledge and insights.

This partnership has been instrumental in promoting research and innovation in healthcare, and has helped to improve the quality of healthcare services provided in the region.

Strengthening Health Systems: GKF and Kashmir Clinics Collaborative Efforts

The fourth partnership is with Kashmir Clinics, which has partnered with GKF to conduct research and organise workshops and awareness programs.

This partnership has been important in promoting public awareness about various health issues, and has helped to improve healthcare outcomes in the region. Kashmir Clinics is a chain of hospitals and clinics spanning across Kashmir.

Acknowledgements: GKF is very appreciative of the efforts of all the members of the team lead by our Medical Director Dr Zubair Saleem, all our partners in the organizations like IOCL, ONGC, Astra Zeneca, Kashmir Clinics Group, Help Line Humanity, GK Communications Ltd, GK Labs and all the patients and their families who trusted us.

Prof Upendra Kaul, Padmashiri and Dr B C Roy Award awardee, is the Founder Director, Gauri Kaul Foundation

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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