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 Their Caregivers) 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 at that time within ISKCON, 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 Bhaktavatsala Das, RN, BSN, APN traveled to Mayapur, India that same year in 2000. During a meeting of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commissioners (GBC), Bhaktavatsala 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, Bhaktavatsala 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 and India giving one to three 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.
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 the help of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and many of his disciples who are professional 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 of Vrindavan and other devotees of Lord Krishna to come to when facing the end of life. In addition to caring for western devotees with terminal diseases, the dedicated staff of this comfortable facility also offers home visits in neighboring villages to provide end-of-life care for approximately 200 terminally ill local patients per month.Their care is funded by the kind donors from around the world who donate through “Share Your Care” (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, a Private Vaishnavas CARE Grief Support Group (the first of its kind in ISKCON), 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 continued 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! Thank you!