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New patrons take Pronam pledge

(From right) Calcutta police chief Surajit Kar Purkayastha, The Bengal secretary general Sundeep Bhutoria, additional police commissioner Debasish Roy and Rupak Barua, group CEO of AMRI Hospitals, after the Pronam meeting at Belle Vue Clinic on Friday evening

Honchos of nearly 20 private hospitals in Calcutta pledged on Friday their support to Pronam, a sought-after 24x7 helpline for elderly people living alone.

Pronam, a joint initiative of Calcutta police and The Bengal, already has 15 hospitals on board — including Belle Vue Clinic, Woodlands, Fortis, Medica and EEDF. On Friday evening, at a meeting in Belle Vue, it got patrons such as Columbia Asia, Bhagirathi Neotia and the Institute of Neuro Sciences.

The old and new supporters chalked out a to-do list:

• Pronam placard at hospital receptions

• Guidelines for hospital staff

• Free medical camps

• Speed up appointments with doctors

• Invite Pronam members to medical lectures

• Medical advice and useful literature for the Pronam magazine, set for a June launch

“We’ve been witnessing a tremendous demand in Calcutta to register as Pronam members. It’s been one of the most successful exercises we’ve had and, apart from the basic points, if any hospital has anything new or extra to offer, it can be circulated among the members and to the respective police stations. I think Pronam members should share their experiences and thoughts with some of the hospitals or at a forum like this. Let this become a model for the rest of the country to follow. We’d like to expand Pronam and generate more services and more members,” police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha said after the meeting.

Starting with Jyoti Basu and Suchitra Sen, who were the first to register, five-year-old Pronam has 10,000 members while hundreds call every day to sign up.

Friday’s meeting showcased the trust bestowed on Pronam in a city where thousands of senior citizens are fending for themselves — loneliness, depression and critical medical needs — because their children work elsewhere.

P. Tondon, the CEO of Belle Vue, which prides on its emergency facilities, refreshed the medical agenda for the Pronam helpline (033 24190740) managed by trained staff.

“The helpline’s responsibility is to arrange for an ambulance to fetch and take a patient to the nearest hospital empanelled with Pronam. Depending on the type of illness, the doctor should start treatment. At the time of admission, no deposit is to be taken from the patient. This can be taken a day or two later. If a patient is unable to afford the fees, the hospital must stabilise the patient before shifting him to the nearest government hospital,” he said.

Additional police commissioner Debasish Roy took forward Tondon’s point: “For the consent required during hospital admission, we are trying to arrange for a guarantor, preferably someone local.”

He then turned to the police chief and asked: “If we could ask government hospitals to join in?”

Sundeep Bhutoria, secretary-general of The Bengal, said: “We will send a CD containing details of all the members to the hospitals and provide some Pronam training to the staff.”

The hospital authorities promised to compile a list of suggestions and requested that the discount option for Pronam card-holders be left open to each hospital based on financial parameters.