Saturday, August 25, 2012

An eye hospital with a purpose

So I have had some time to take in all that was experienced in India and what I will forever remember is the Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital.  This place was amazing because they not only provide state of the art eye care for the paying public but they provide world class care for everyone.  We had spent half a day at the hospital and this was far too little time to fully comprehend the incredible service that this "temple of the eye" provides.  The technology and the compassion for all people regardless of their status or ability to pay was what I was immediately taken by.  This hospital provides care for anyone regardless of their status, we spent the beginning of our visit in the 'free clinic', on the day we arrived the doctors in the clinic performed 40 free surgeries for needy patients, in some cases this surgery restored the patients sight.  Many patients in India are blinded by their cataracts because these cataracts are so mature and dense that they compromise patients vision,  the operation to remove these cataracts restores their vision therefore restoring their quality of life.  Rarely in the United States does a patient have a cataract that is so mature that it has taken sight.
As I listened to the Ophthalmologist talk to us about the mission of the hospital I was struck by the sheer quantity of patients that this physician and this hospital takes care of daily, she spoke to us in the waiting room where I would estimate there were well over 30 patients waiting for care.
Then we were on our way to the main hospital so back on the bus, I think we have all had our share of bus rides and I have personally sworn off buses for at least a year!  When we arrived at the main campus I was amazed by the size of the facility, the centerpiece was a five story building that was the main hospital.  There were other buildings housing research and offices along this beautiful campus.  Once inside we were given a tour of the facility and I was struck by the technology that was available, the technology was on par with most Ophthalmic practices in the United States.  In some cases this hospital had more advanced technology!
The people at Sankara Nethralya could not have been more hospitable to our group.  I have met hundreds of Ophthalmologists in the fifteen years that I have worked with eye doctors and I have never been more impressed and in awe of a physician as I was when I met Dr. Badrinath.  This man is Harvard trained and he decided thirty years ago to come home to India to create this beautiful facility to restore sight to all in need regardless of their standing in society.  When he spoke to us he was as humble as a man could be.  What I will always remember is that he was so humble that when we asked him the question of why he undertook such a noble venture of building this non-profit hospital he was too humble to answer and his wife stepped in and detailed his incredible story!  After spending an hour or so with the management group we were treated to a fine Indian lunch and headed on our way.  I wish we could have spent the entire day at this place it was just an incredible place with an incredible story that I will never forget!!

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