Low Cost Effective Care Unit

The Low Cost Effective Care Unit (LCECU), situated slightly away from the main hospital, aims to provide quality but low cost care to the poorest inhabitants of Vellore. Patients pay a nominal amount for registration, and then are only charged for drugs and investigations – even those charges are according to the individual’s ability to pay. They have set up some clinics in Old Town, the main slum area of Vellore, to get medical support to the very poorest.

From 2015-2021 Friends of Vellore UK funded £30,000 project to strengthen the outreach services of LCECU through community health workers. The community health workers work in the slum areas of Vellore town, educating the community to improve health and prevent illness, acting as the interface between the community and the unit, enabling referrals to the hospital where necessary. Typically those living in slum areas will not seek medical help, thinking it is unavailable or too expensive.

They particularly work with the following patients and where necessary, refer them to LCECU medical and nursing staff:

  • Children, monitoring growth, facilitating immunization and identifying children with acute and chronic illness.
  • Mothers to provide antenatal care, identifying high risk pregnancies, planning deliveries and providing postnatal care. They will promote breastfeeding and family planning.
  • Those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, COPD, tuberculosis, seizures and heart disease. They will provide information and check medical adherence.
  • The elderly and those with disabilities, identifying and strengthening the existing community based rehabilitation programme.
The LCECU vehicle funded by FOV
The LCECU vehicle funded by FOV

Following this project, CMC decided to absorb the cost of the five health workers and their driver into their ongoing budget, enabling the valuable work they are doing to continue.

In 2015, thanks to a very generous donation, we funded a new vehicle for LCECU to transport staff and patients to the slum areas.

We are currently funding a 2-year project to enable dental health service delivery and education for patients visiting CMC’s Low Cost Effective Care Unit.

The Covid pandemic has affected medical and dental care services in way that has challenged the clinician and clinical care rendered to the patient. People are now reluctant to visit dental clinics for fear of catching Covid and have not been able to take care of their oral hygiene. Many of LCECU’s patients who previously would have attended regular dental check-ups have stayed away. Now, patients who seek dental and oral care services have advanced dental problems, disease and infections which could have been managed earlier.

CMC are undertaking this project to seek to understand the fears and concerns of patients visiting the dental clinic and to assess their understanding of oral healthcare. Patients coming to LCECU clinic to visit a general physician or dental clinic will be asked a list of questions and appropriate data will be collected and analysed. CMC will conduct dental clinics twice a week at LCECU, once a week in schools and also in the peripheral community centres of LCECU once every week.

The funding includes two years of salary for a dental graduate who has a passion for community work. This person will talk to and treat the patients, capturing and analysing data along the way. The funding will also cover equipment and material to aid dental education including a large TV screen for the LCECU waiting area and a portable project for presentations at outreach clinics.