The History of Vaishnavas CARE
In 2000, Sangita Devi Dasi (Susan Pattinson, RN, CHPN) and The Late Jusaniya Devi Dasi (Judy Harris, RN, BSN), both disciples of Srila Prabhupada, co-founded Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. (Counseling, Assistance, Resource, and Education for the Terminally ill and Those in Need) in service to their spiritual master and the worldwide community of devotees of Lord Krishna. Because the concepts of hospice and palliative care were unfamiliar within ISKCON at that time, educational articles, online coursework, as well as one-on-one communication were used to introduce and teach basic care for the terminally ill via its initial website.
In addition, Sangita Devi Dasi and Bhakta Vatsala Das, RN, BSN, APN (Master's Degreed Advanced Practice Nurse) from ISKCON Silicon Valley in Northern California, traveled to Mayapur, India that same year in 2000. During a meeting of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commissioners (GBC), Bhakta Vatsala presented Vaishnavas CARE’s vision to ISKCON’s GBC leaders by explaining our desire to introduce hospice care in every temple and community in ISKCON so its worldwide family of devotees would receive the end-of-life care they deserve. In addition, Bhakta Vatsala explained Vaishnavas CARE’s hope to build an inpatient hospice facility within Vrindavan, India (a holy place of pilgrimage for Vaishnavas around the world).
Sangita Devi Dasi
Eventually, Sangita traveled to cities throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, and India giving one to four-day hospice training seminars. In addition, she encouraged and helped organize “Vaishnavas Care Teams” in ISKCON Temples and Communities so volunteers would be trained and ready when the need arose within their congregation. With the publication of her book, "The Final Journey–Complete Hospice Care for Departing Vaishnavas" (Torchlight Publishing, 1st and 2nd Editions) devotees around the world now had a hands-on manual to follow when caring for a dying loved one. This helped push forward Vaishnavas CARE’s cause and made the information more readily available because it was written specifically for layperson caregivers within the Vaishnava faith. However, The Final Journey was now being read by readers of other faiths as well. For example, it became "mandatory reading" for the nursing staff at a Catholic Hospice in Central California.
Meanwhile, Sangita worked with His Holiness Giriraj Swami for over a decade to design, build and establish the Bhaktivedanta Hospice in Vrindavan, India so devotees from around the globe could easily come to the Holy Land to pass away when diagnosed with a terminal disease. After much work and with the help of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and many of his disciples who are licensed Physicians at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai, India, our Bhaktivedanta Hospice in the Holy Land of Vrindavan, a 40,000 square foot hospice facility, opened its doors in 2010.
The Bhaktivedanta Hospice still functions in Vrindavan for local residents and other devotees of Lord Krishna who travel there from the West when facing the end of life. In addition to caring for inpatients with terminal diseases, the dedicated staff of this comfortable facility also offer home visits in neighboring villages and provide end-of-life care for approximately 200 terminally ill patients in need per month. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the facility is now being expanded to add new services which will include an Emergency Department, Operating Room, Medical-Surgical Floor, Laboratory, Pharmacy, along with Medical Offices with Exam Rooms, etc.
Some patients who are cared for at the newly designed "Bhaktivedanta Hospital and Hospice" facility in the Holy Dhama are funded by kind donors from around the world who donate through the non-profit organization, “Share Your Care.” If you would like to make a donation to assist a local patient in need, please go to: www.shareyourcare.com.
In addition, several years ago, Sangita Devi Dasi spent time at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai, India encouraging the start of their Hospice and Palliative Care Department which has since expanded with two enthusiastic and caring Physicians, several Registered Nurses, Other staff members, and over 50 volunteers to serve their local population who are facing the end of life.
We are so grateful to our dedicated group of donors and enthusiastic Vaishnavas CARE volunteers. Vaishnavas CARE continues to expand our services throughout the world including, hands-on care from our trained volunteers, educational seminars (including on Zoom during this time of Covid-19). We also offer a popular online Distance Learning Course, inspiring online articles on our website and Facebook page, two Private Vaishnavas CARE Grief Support Groups--one in English and one in Spanish led by a Spanish-speaking Vaishnavi Counselor and a Spanish-speaking Vaishnavi Psychologist. These Grief Support Groups specifically for devotees of Lord Krsna are the first of its kind in ISKCON. We also offer One-on-One Grief Counseling with our experienced Social Worker, emotional and spiritual support for the patient as well as the caregiver/family members, and continuous educational training for our Vaishnavas CARE teams and individuals who desire to expand their initial training in this specialized service to Srila Prabhupada and his beloved devotees.
Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. remains an ongoing resource for members of the Krishna consciousness movement as well as anyone who feels they can benefit from our assistance. We thank our kind Supporters for their ongoing encouragement and our generous Donors for their continued contributions and participation! We are an official, Non-profit, Tax-exempt Organization. All donations are tax-deductible and very appreciated! 100% of all donations go directly toward this project to serve the Vaishnavas in need and to educate the devotees in learning how to care for the sick and dying Vaishnavas in their communities. Thank you!
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