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For kids with disabilities, Wadia Hospital offers quality care & support, all under one roof

Be it cutting edge techniques that helped reduce epileptic fits in a young child or state of the art neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the B J Wadia Children's Hospital in Mumbai consistently sets high benchmarks, be it in high quality, affordable care or service delivery programs.

No wonder that India's largest paediatric hospital has been honoured with the award for Best Hospital in Asia. When it comes to services for children with disabilities, Wadia Hospital has shown the way to others.

"The Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital was set up in 1928 and some of our clinics catering to children with disabilities have been established since then", says Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO, Wadia Hospitals. "We offer a wide spectrum of services for children with disabilities and our approach is holistic, wherein we work towards catering to their healthcare needs under one roof."

The care offered is wide based and comprehensive, bringing together the best in various departments like orthopaedics, neurology, ophthalmology, ENT, nutrition, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and audiology. This is supported by other clinical services and diagnostic services.

All of this is available to children under one roof, which is quite invaluable points out, Dr Dipti Hanmante Gandhi, Founder, Muskan Foundation. The foundation, which works with children with multiple disabilities, runs the Disability Centre at the Wadia Hospital. It also runs a school in partnership with the hospital for empowering children with disabilities.

"We see 10 new patients every week and many of them are children from poor families from across rural India", says Dr Gandhi. "All the therapies needed are offered under one roof and for just Rs 100, which is truly rare".

There are patients who come in with a range of disabilities like club foot, knock knees, cerebral palsy, childhood bone tumours as well as developmental disorders. Conditions that require a range of therapies and treatments, often over a period of time, which makes access to services under one roof invaluable. This is especially true for patients outside Mumbai, who have to factor in issues like treatment follow up, costs incurred on travel as well as stay.

"The hospital helps them with timely and expert treatment, social service network, and a referral multi-speciality approach under one roof", says Dr Rujuta Mehta, Head, Orthopaedic Department, at Wadia Hospital.

What is remarkable is that these services were launched at a time when awareness and sensitization about disabilities was quite low. A foresight that Dr Bodhanwala attributes to the founders.

It is the vision of the founders of the Wadia family, who understood nine decades back that children are not mini-adults and need specialised care and established the first paediatric hospital in the country. You often see that many hospitals do not cater to children with special needs as the services yield less margins for them, but when it comes to us we are only focused on benefitting the community rather than benefiting from it. - Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO, Wadia Hospitals

While awareness has improved, there are still many challenges doctors here face during treatment. Emphasising the importance of early intervention, Dr Shilpa Kulkarni, Department Head, Paediatric Neurosciences, says treatment must start before the disability is evident. However, the reality is often different. "Babies get discharged from ICU and parents do not follow up regularly so the benefits of early intervention are lost. People wait till they see the symptoms which leads to loss of precious time of brain plasticity. Also people are not regular in therapy . We need to increase awareness about the early intervention", says Dr Kulkarni.

Apart from improving awareness among patients and their families, Wadia Hospital also plays a larger community role to build sensitization through annual events like Little Hearts where kids with disabilities run along with other children. This year the marathon will be held on 27 January.

From offering quality care to the larger mission of building an enabling environment for children with disabilities, the dedication and commitment shown by the B J Wadia Children's Hospital is truly rare and special.

ALSO READ:With various interventions for disabled kids under one roof, Muskan brings a smile to people's faces

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