The embodiments of service and compassion pay a visit to Sankara Nethralaya

It was a day of learning, inspiration and recapturing of old memories for the members of the Sankara Nethralaya family as two towering personalities Dr N.Namberumalswamy, Chairman Emeritus and Dr Natchiar, Director Emeritus, Aravind Healthcare Systems, known for their pioneering and compassionate work in the field of ophthalmology honoured Sankara Nethralaya with a visit on 9th February 2013 and shared their invaluable experiences.

The proceedings started with a melodious invocation by Dr S.Meenakshi, Director, Academics.

Delivering the welcome address Dr Bipasha Mukherjee, Director, Department of Oculoplasty observed that the story of Aravind was not just one of ophthalmology or optometry but an enlightening, inspiring saga of a path breaking institution started on the principles laid out by Swamy Aurobindo, the Sage of Auroville and the Divine Mother.

Dr Mohan Rajan, Head, Rajan Eye Care Hospital introduced Dr Namberulswamy’s multifaceted personality, the learned doctor, the warm hearted human being and the architect of one of the greatest monuments of service of our times, by listing out his achievements and their recognitions in chronological order.

Speaking on the topic ‘Human resource”- Key factor for any successful eye care organization” Dr Natchiar, gave a most interesting talk touching upon a wide array of subjects from the changing attitudes of patients and doctors to the sea changes in treatment methodology and healthcare delivery over the last 4 decades. Dr Natchiar observed that it is unfortunate that HR and its development do not get their due importance in healthcare as they do in other industries, which according to her should change. She highlighted that plush buildings and hi-tech equipment cannot be a substitute to the warmth and care shown by the attending doctors and staff members, in this light she underlined that the need to identify the right employee, equip him not just with the relevant job knowledge and skills but also inculcate the philosophy and objectives of the institution in him/her. She concluded her speech with the observation that it is equally important to weed out the bad employees as only a set of committed medical and paramedical professionals could deliver outstanding quality and satisfaction to patients.

The thought provoking talk on HR principles was followed by a most informative and absorbing talk on institution building and his experiences in building a social enterprise by Dr N. Namberumalswamy, Chairman Emeritus, Aravind Eye Care Systems. Starting with the thought provoking line that “Vision is not about what is possible but what may be possible” Dr Namberumalswamy traced the humble beginnings of the Aravind Hospital and the missionary zeal that the words of Swamy Aurobindo filled the hearts of its founders. He highlighted the similarities between his institution and Sankara Nethralaya right from the days of learning spent with Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya at Massachusetts to how both of them were driven by a common philosophy and passion to provide eye care to the downtrodden and underprivileged without compromising on the quality of care delivered and how the words of great saints and sages had a profound impact on their lives. Dr Namberumalswamy made it very clear that the medical profession is service driven and not money driven, he emphasized that the need of the hour is optimum utilization of human and infrastructural resources in a large and highly populated nation like India. He explained the outreach and self reliance and rural employment being created by Aravind in the rural pockets surrounding Madurai, the drug and contact lens manufacturing facilities and Aravind Eye Care’s excellent self sustaining model.

Dr Namberumalswamy closed his address with warm congratulations to Dr SS.Badrinath and his team which according to him are known the world over

The day’s function came to an end with a warm Vote of Thanks by Dr Sumitha Agarkar, Deputy Director, Squint and Pediatric ophthalmology department.

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