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“In hospices, where the hope of a cure ends, it’s the care that gives life to the living,” says Lax Gopisetty.
Gopisetty, a Vice President at Infosys, was living in Hyderabad, India in 2011 when he was connected to a group of medical and enterprising professionals who were interested in starting a new initiative — a one-of-its-kind hospice that would provide free palliative care for terminally ill people from all walks of life, with a starting focus on people impacted by cancer.
At first, Gopisetty was unfamiliar with what a hospice or palliative care was. But once he learned more, he was hooked and saw the opportunity to build a socially responsible organization. “I have always wanted to make an impact,” says Gopisetty. “And this was something impactful.”
Gopisetty got to work. Leveraging his couple of decades experience in global management within technology & business, he infused enterprise thinking into the operating model, setting a foundation for a sustainable, scalable organization that would be socially responsible.
Within 12 months, the group opened Sparsh Hospice, renting a 12-bed facility in Hyderabad from a civil servant. A team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other health professionals provided pain and symptom management care to patients. In the beginning, the group wasn’t sure how their neighbors or the larger community would react, as speaking openly about end-of-life care was not common in Indian society. But the community responded with an outpouring of support. In fact, various constituents including local governments, communities and enterprises supported and sustained the group for almost a decade in that location, until the state government provided land for constructing a larger facility.
Today, Sparsh Hospice is an 82-bed facility for cancer patients, with separate sections for women and children. The hospice provides free services to all patients, including accommodation, food, medical services, medicines, hygiene products and more. Additionally, they provide counseling and guidance to the patients’ families to help them prepare for the future. The organization also has six mobile vans that each make daily visits to terminally ill patients in their homes to provide palliative care. Beyond inpatient and home care, the group also provides respite care to give families a break, as well as host community awareness programs to educate the public about palliative care.
Gopisetty, who relocated to the US in 2014, continues working behind the scenes for the hospice. He is a member of the Board of Directors and established Sparsh Palliative Care Services, a trust in the US in 2014 that, together with a trust based in India, provides financial support for Sparsh Hospice.
Gopisetty is grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting the hospice.
“Having a dignified end of life is every person’s right,” he says. “Sparsh is an endeavor to let them live life to the fullest before their destiny.”