The hospital provides free medical care to the residents of eight coastal villages, as well as to the Amritapuri ashram's residents and visitors. The hospital is also home to several elderly permanent patients. The hospital serves a total of 10,000 registered patients. Ashram doctors are assisted by visiting specialists and a telemedicine link with AIMS Hospital, where referrals are sent.
This hospital situated on the premises of Amma's main ashram provides free medical care to local residents from the eight neighboring coastal villages as well as Amritapuri ashram's residents and visitors. To date, this amounts to a total of 10,000 registered patients. On a normal, average day, around 150 out-patients require the health center's assistance.
Endocrinology, Dermatology, ENT (ear, nose, throat), Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Gynecology, Cardiology, and Homeopathy visiting specialists offer their services on Wednesdays and weekends when an even larger crowd, often more than 200, populate the shady corridors surrounded by a lush garden, waiting their turn to receive needed professional help.
Chiropractic treatments are also provided by one of the ashram residents. Dental care, available two to three times a week, meets the great demand from both villagers as well as ashram residents.
The 50 bed health center has a two-bed intensive care unit at its disposal so that emergencies can be given attention. "We stabilize patients so that they can be sent to AIMS Hospital for further treatment or surgery, the most common emergency cases being appendix or bypass surgery" states Br. Dr. Chandrasekhar. "The hospital is a gift from Amma to the villagers," he adds. In addition to two permanent ashram medical doctors, three qualified nurses take care of patients' needs.
The health center is also "home" for several elderly permanent patients needing constant care. One of the residents, Janki Amma, a Malayali, came to the center six months ago. She enjoys conversing with other residents or reading spiritual literature sitting in the corner of the second floor corridor, in front of her simple, yet carefully decorated room.
Displaying the natural pride of a mother, she chatted in fluent English with the interviewer about her beloved son, Br. Amarnath, who serves in Amma's Trivandrum Ashram. Bri. Beena, in addition to her assignment at the pharmacy, takes care of Janaki Amma, by sleeping in Janaki Amma's room at night and by organizing her daytime care, which is carried out by ashram residents and long term visitors.
After obtaining the required medical prescriptions from their personal doctors, village residents then receive free medicine from the well-equipped pharmacy. "Since most of our patients have chronic diseases like diabetes or hypertension which require long term treatment with particularly expensive medicines, this measure brings great relief to many local families," explains the pharmacist.
On Amma's advice, Bri. Beena studied pharmacy at AIMS and joined the ashram right after her graduation nearly a decade ago. She started serving at the hospital a few months after her arrival at Amritapuri.
The laboratory is yet another much needed facility at Amrita Kripa. "On an average day, approximately 20 tests including sugar, microscopic urine and stool, hemoglobin and lymphocyte, and Mantoux (a test to diagnose tuberculosis), are carried out," explains Pranada. She is an ashram resident from France and is one of the two qualified laboratory assistants who do selfless service at the center. "As a secondary preventive measure, vaccinations like rabbis or tetanus are also administered at the lab," she elaborates.
"Local housewives, in doing laundry by hand or lugging around heavy pots over the years, frequently develop neck, shoulder, lower back and arm pain. An unexpected positive side-effect from the physiotherapeutic treatment is that these hardworking women get some special attention, which for many, represents a completely new life experience."
In performing their daily work, local fishermen repeatedly experience accidents resulting in fractures or ligament injuries. In order to fully recover and return to work, these patients often require rehabilitative therapy sessions for several weeks which are provided by Nila or Ferdinand, the two physiotherapists who do seva at the center.
"Local housewives, in doing laundry by hand or lugging around heavy pots over the years, frequently develop neck, shoulder, lower back and arm pain," Nila explains. "An unexpected positive side-effect from the physiotherapeutic treatment is that these hardworking women get some special attention, which for many, represents a completely new life experience."
After working at Amrita Kripa for nine years, Nila has many heart-rending stories to tell -- like that of a resident of one of the neighboring villages who saw that his home had caught fire. Knowing his wife was trapped inside, he rushed into the burning house to rescue her, but it was too late. The wife died that same day.
As a mourning husband, he was left alone with third-degree burns on his hands and arms. First treated at another hospital and still after ten months unable to move his hands and fingers, he was brought to AIMS hospital to undergo a series of surgeries. After several operations and additional physiotherapy at Amrita Kripa Hospital, his condition improved considerably.
Ferdinand, the other physiotherapist, works with children who, due to a birth trauma, suffer from disabilities such as epilepsy or paralysis. These children as babies often don't respond to the parental display of affection. After a while, parents become frustrated and no longer try to elicit a smile from their child and sadly, they reduce giving their child attention, to the basic minimal care.
As a result of this emotional deprivation, the child's brain doesn't receive enough stimulation and consequently his or her condition deteriorates. In such cases it is the physiotherapist's duty to inform these often poorly educated parents of the importance of providing adequate sensory stimulation to their babies. "It is amazing to observe how much those children, whose parents understand and implement the explanations, improve after only a few weeks," he reveals.
During the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, Amrita Kripa also played a crucial role in assisting the severely affected population of the region. On a daily average, 400 victims were treated at the hospital. The Alappad Panchayat Peninsula, where the ashram is located, was one of Kerala's worst hit areas, with 42 casualties and several hundred people losing homes.