The Sankara Nethralaya mobile surgical bus engineered to take top quality eye care to the most inaccessible regions, especially regions not served by a health care facility in the neighbourhood received a call to fulfill its avowed mission when the Sankara Nethralaya Community services team decided to reach out quality eye care to ‘Chunampet’ a remote hamlet about 140 kilometers away from Chennai, on the Madurantakam -Pondicherry route. The location of the camp was chosen on the basis of non-availability of quality eye care in the region and in deference to the wish of Shri C.Ramakrishna, Member of the Board, Medical Research Foundation who has his roots in this village. Shri Ramakrishna had most thoughtfully arranged for the food, refreshments to the patients and the outdoor team involved in the operation including the stay of the outdoor team during the 5 days of the camp. Shri C.Ramakrishna had also coordinated with the Dr Mohan’s diabetes hospital to use the premises of the ‘Sri Sai Rural Diabetes Centre’ their community health initiative in Chunampet as an assembling and waiting point for the patients and to park the Mobile surgical units.
The outdoor team consisting of Consultants Dr S.Sudarhsan and Dr Sridhar Baratan and the paramedical teams reached Chunampet on the morning of 22nd April and the eye screening camp was conducted on 22nd and 23rd of April. There was a good turnout of 259 people mainly landless farm labourers and small farmers from Chunampet and surrounding villages who had no access or wherewithal to go to an eye care centre. A total of 26 patients were diagnosed with cataract at varying stages and needing surgical intervention, pre-operative tests were carried out to ascertain that they were fit for surgery and they were asked to report to the same venue on the 27th and 28th in batches of 13 each day, to undergo surgery. The patients were again subjected to surgery fitness tests on the day of the surgery and cataract surgery was carried out successfully at the operation theatre on wheels, after which they could return to their homes.
A post operative camp was conducted on the 30th of April to thoroughly examine if the patients were progressing well, if their vision had improved and to rule out any post operative complication. All the 26 patients were found to be normal and had responded well to the surgery and expressed their happiness at gaining back their eyesight. A highlight of the camp was the visit and participation of Dr SS. Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus and Dr. Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Services, Sankara Nethralaya. They had come with a view of assessing the quality and efficacy of the mobile surgical camps at the clinical level and their cost and benefit. The head of Sankara Nethralaya studied the case reports at random, interacted with the Consultants and their support team members and picked up a conversation with the beneficiaries to gauge the impact of the camp and their experience.
The Chunampet camp turned out to be a highly successful mission for the Mobile Surgical Bus and also a learning session for future camps.