The large and diverse gathering assembled at the ‘Confluence – Banquets & Resorts’ the grand venue of the Elite School’s International Vision and Optometry Conference, on the 14th of August 2015 was a shining testimony to the great success of the institution’s basic endeavour of bringing ‘Optometry,’ the arithmetic, art and science of light and vision, centre stage and find a glorious place for it in the rarefied realm of academia, the dream of its founding fathers. The large gathering comprising students, practitioners of optometry, veteran tutors, the participative agenda, the celebrations planned as a retreat on the lighter side were a sign of the tireless efforts, meticulous planning and enthusiasm of the organizing team consisting of optometrists, lecturers and students of the Elite School of Optometry led by its vibrant Principal Dr R.Krishna Kumar.
The most keenly awaited program started on the dot of schedule with a most mellifluous invocation by Ms. Shwetha Mohanakrishnan, who runs a school of music in the neighbourhood. Indelible memories and great moments from the glorious history of the institution including its inception were shared by Dr T.S Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya and Professor Lakshminarayanan, two veterans who had played a pivotal role in the formation of the institution. They captured the momentous events and the contribution of key architects like Dr. K. Ravishankar, Professor S. Ramaswamy, Professor Veeraraghavan, Professor PP.Santanam, Professor Sumathi Narayanan, Professor E.Vaithilingam and Professor Enoch which led to the seed idea of the great visionary Dr. SS.Badrinath to start a world class institution of optometry in India a reality. Professor Lakshminarayanan also gave an interesting account of year 2015 being declared as the ‘Year of Light’ by the United Nations and celebrations of the same across the globe.
The moving force and prime architect of the international conference, Dr. Krishna Kumar, Principal ESO and Chairperson EIVOC-2015 started his address on a vibrant note quoting late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s immortal lines from his epic work ‘Wings of Fire’, he recalled the vision of Dr SS.Badrinath to set up an exclusive institution for optometry and the selfless work of Dr T.S.Surendran and other stalwarts in making his vision a reality. The Head of ESO quickly summarized the objectives of the EIVOC-2010, the previous international conference conducted by the ESO as an update on Dispensing Optics, Visual issues in special children and the current EIVOC-2015 as a spotlight on Neuro-Optometric rehabilitation, optometric education and growth of optometry. Expressing his satisfaction at the impressive growth of the institution and its services he observed that it still had miles to go. He concluded his talk with the observation that the best tribute to the founding fathers of ESO would be to explore indigenous, affordable eye care, become socially accountable, interactive and take the benefits of optometry to humanity at large.
Exhibiting a rare mastery over the ancient scriptures Srimathi Akila Ganesan, Senior General Manager, Sankara Nethralaya quoted with felicity from the Vedas the ancient treatises of wisdom to underline her point that ‘desire’ is the driving force of everything, which included the journey from darkness to light. Showering praise on the authors of the three books being released on the occasion, she lauded Professor P.P.Santanam as the ‘Father of Occupational Optometry’ in India, she fondly recalled her association with Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan as her student and colleague and had a high word of praise for Srimathi Sarika Gopalakrishnan, Head of the Low Vision Clinic at Sankara Nethralaya for imbibing the scientific temperament and spirit of late Dr.E.Vaithilingam. The senior management member made a fervent appeal to the optometrists gathered to ask the question ‘How can i improve the quality of life of my fellow human beings’ to themselves everyday and ended her talk with the lines from the Vedas ‘May our Study be Enlightening’.
The spiritualist, master, celebrated personality development guru and Founder of ‘Infinitheism’ and Chief Guest of the day Shri Mahatria Ra started off his address with an exuberant Happy Evening!! to the audience, he created a ripple with his opening statement that Doctors must be ‘Felt’ more than being seen; they and their clinics, he expressed emphatically must exude positive energy and confidence which could be felt. He expressed his high respect for Dr. SS.Badrinath and Dr K.V.Thiruvengadam for their humility and down to earth attitude not affected by their Himalayan achievements. Shri Mahatria Ra underlined the importance of inculcating leadership as a quality, standing apart from the crowd and not compromising on anything in life, adding that if not for these qualities the world would have had a good eye surgeon in the form of Dr SS.Badrinath but not Sankara Nethralaya the institution he founded. He cautioned that unless we are tough on ourselves the world will get tough on us. The star speaker shared his knowledge in pearls of wisdom explained in a simple manner, he advised the audience to keep the student in them live by making learning a lifelong process, he advocated the audience to look at the bigger picture by linking their individual growth with the society’s growth, setting the most exacting standards in their professional lives, inculcating high work ethics beyond the call of HR compliance.
The momentous inaugural function marking the beginning of three days of scientific deliberations, lectures, debates and exchange of ideas combined with a cultural retreat and lot of fun, interaction and sightseeing came to an end with a warm Vote of Thanks by Shri S.Viswanthan, DGM Optical services and Optometry, he expressed his sincere thanks to the eminent Chief guest, dignitaries from all over the world, the corporate sponsors for their patronising the event and the organizing team of the Elite School of optometry for the memorable event.
The three day high level sessions that followed at the picturesque venue by the sea was attended by more than 1250 participants, 82 speakers, witnessed 11 plenary talks, 36 talks in symposia, 17 workshops and 13 expert interaction sessions, the conference was on par with international standards. Keeping up with the theme of the conference ‘Tamasoma Jyothirgamaya’ which means “From darkness unto Light”, every session was planned to enlighten the delegates and upgrade them from their current practice. In-depth sessions were held on new areas like Neuro- Optometry and Occupational Optometry, introduced for the first time in India by the ESO. A group of 13 universities from India and abroad briefed the students on higher education through the session “Golden opportunities globally”. A total of 112 posters and 43 papers were presented and the Best scientific presentation prizes were bagged by Ms. Neha Gupta, Elite School of Optometry in the student category and Mr. Vinay Nilagiri, L.VPrasad Eye Institute in the regular category.
It was a rhythm of compassion and caring as thousands of pairs of feet, young, old, middle-age and even tiny tots, covered in trendy sports shoes, simple chappals, slip- ons and even barefoot hit the mud track at the lush and serene environs of IIT-Madras at 8:00am sharp on the 23rd of August 2015. Chennaiites were expressing their solidarity and kinship in the battle against cancer by participating in the ‘Terry Fox Run’ the ‘Marathon of Hope’ for millions of cancer patients the world over, they were paying their tributes to the undying spirit of two young men, Terrance Stanley Fox the indomitable young Canadian who ran thousands of miles in the most inhospitable weather, continued to run even after one of his legs was amputated to raise awareness on cancer and in whose name the Terry Fox run is being conducted across the world and Akash Dube the young man who exhibited exemplary courage in the face of adversity, a young man who looked at death without fear and took the news of his critical condition in his stride. Akash Dube had done a good lot of research in cancer prevention and treatment and dreamed of finding a cure for the ailment in his life time. He ideated the run in India and participated with enthusiasm before he succumbed to the disease.
The Chennai chapter of the Terry Fox Run attracted large participation from all walks of life, notable among them being Judith Terrance Fox, sister of Terrance Stanley Fox, Lt Col Jasbir Singh Raina, Shri Ravi Das and Shri Badrinarayanan of the Rotary Club of East Madras who had played a major role in organizing the event, the run was supported by IIT-Madras and the Cancer Institute.
As a service oriented healthcare institution Sankara Nethralaya has many things in common with the Ramakrishna Mutt, its philosophy has been highly inspired by the sense of sacrifice, service and pioneering spirit exhibited by His Holiness Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda. The formative years spent at the Ramakrishna Mutt School had left an indelible impact on the institution’s Founder and Chief Architect Dr S.S.Badrinath and influenced his direction and future decisions of life, the most important being the starting of Sankara Nethralaya. It was hence most appropriate that the ‘Independence Day’ celebration at Sankara Nethralaya was presided over by a most worthy disciple of the Mutt, Swami Vimurthananda, Manager – Ramakrishna Mutt and Editor ‘Ramakrishna Vijayam’. Dr T.S. Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya extended a warm welcome to the revered Chief Guest and the large gathering consisting of Consultants, Researchers, Senior management members, employees and well wishers and their families, he recalled in his customary lighter vein, his own tryst with spiritualism and futile attempts at becoming a Swamiji. The Chief Guest unfurled the national tricolour as the gathering rendered the National Anthem in chorus. The day witnessed the exhibition of talent in singing and dancing by employees and their children, awarding of academic scholarships to the deserving children of employees, service awards to long serving employees, department wise performance awards and the most awaited ‘Man of the Year and Woman of the Year’ Awards as a recognition and encouragement to staff members. The man of the year award was awarded to Shri P.Krishnamurthy- Head- Bio-Engineering/Instrumentation Department and the woman of the year was awarded to Ms. Sridevi, Manager, the Sankara Nethralaya Academy.
Shri A.P.Irungovel, Manager – Patient Education& Counselling, an ardent devotee of Swami Vivekananda gave a brief and interesting introduction of the Chief Guest, in his inimitable, chaste Tamil. The Swamiji started his speech on a warm note by expressing that speaking at the Sankara Nethralaya made him feel so much at home and he considered the members of Sankara Nethralaya as part of the Ramakrishna Mutt, as its founder and Chairman Emeritus Dr SS.Badrinath is a product of their institution. It was a thought provoking I-Day oration and in keeping with the spirit of awakening so characteristic of his Mutt and Order the Swamiji raised some fundamental questions like ‘Are we truly independent today after 68 years of self rule? He raised the question that while the nation has attained political freedom, if it has attained freedom from its politicians. He appealed to the gathering to work like masters and with a single minded devotion on whatever they were pursuing and soon the world will take notice of them. The day ended with lot of food for thought and a sumptuous breakfast for all the attendees.
The 10th batch of the highly successful Hospital Management Program got off to a great start at the Sankara Nethralaya main campus on 22nd August 2015. The genesis and milestones of Sankara Nethralaya and the Sankara Nethralaya Academy (TSNA) were detailed by Mr. A Mahalingam, Deputy Registrar, TSNA through an interesting talk and a virtual tour of both the institutions functioning under the visionary leadership of Dr. S.S Badrinath, Founder& Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya and Founder, Sankara Nethralaya Academy.
Dr. T.S. Surendran inaugurated the new session and addressed the students; he strongly underlined the need for professional healthcare administrators to be in symbiotic relation with doctors to run the health care sector whose demand for quality services at low costs is increasing, in a most effective manner.
TSNA the academic arm of its illustrious parent institution and world class eye care provider is committed to sharing the knowledge and experience of its parent institution to the students of its various courses to help in enhancing the overall functioning of the Medicare industry in the nation, by improving every one of its multiple facets.
The need for better and more professional management of hospitals and better healthcare delivery became imperative in view of greater awareness levels and rising expectations of patients and their families, entry of Indian and overseas players into the health care industry, India especially South India becoming a preferred healthcare destination of patients from all over the world and the disturbing increase and complexity of ailments.
The Sankara Nethralaya Academy launched its Weekend Certificate Course in Hospital Management program (CCHM) to primarily enhance the capabilities of healthcare professionals and to help them overcome the internal/external challenges and succeed in a tough marketplace.
The Objective of the program was to provide hospital management professionals with a broad perspective of the topics related to management with emphasis on better health care delivery.
The pedagogy and content of the CCHM program are health care specific and designed to address the concerns of hospital administrators / executives / supervisors and equip them with the knowledge required to increase effectiveness and efficiency.
The course is designed to increase the overall understanding of management issues and concepts by mid-level and senior managers to help them make well–informed decisions.
The course has since its first batch attracted mid and senior level professionals from small to high profile, multi-specialty hospitals and all of them have unilaterally found it to be of great relevance and purpose to their vocation and so far 196 healthcare executives from 200 organizations enrolled and passed this unique program
The course will be conducted over 12 weekends ( Saturdays – between 10 am to 1 pm) at the Sankara Nethralaya Main campus, College road, Chennai – 600 006)
The maximum number of students per batch has been kept at 15 – 20 to enable closer interaction and personalized, in- depth discussions between the faculty and students.
The Course was well received with senior management personnel like Directors, Medical Professionals, Management Executives from reputed healthcare institutions in the city enrolling in it.
The First week session on Effective Service Delivery was conducted by highly qualified and experience professional Prof Murali Subramanian, professor of healthcare marketing, Indian Institute of Knowledge Management (IIKM) and Visiting Management faculty to Sankara Nethralaya Academy, LIBA,etc.
The session was very lively and interactive with a good number of Participants contributing to the content of the session with their comments and personal experiences in their sphere of work.
The concept of customer service, profit chain and the benefits that would accrue to the organization when excellent customer care is rendered on were highlighted. Referrals, positive word of mouth, standing apart from the competition and increase in revenues were discussed.
Videos were shown on handling different types of customers such as an
Further a couple of short videos on bad customer service were screened and the participants were asked to comment on the deficiencies that they observed on the delivery of service. The golden rules of customer service were discussed. It was felt by all the participants that given the intensity of the competition prevailing in the health care sector, in addition to quality of care, the service levels are very important to drive patient footfall and if there are inadequacies in this area it will clearly reflect on the growth of the hospital.
All the participants were very happy with the quality of the workshop. The facilitator of the workshop asked the participants about their impressions on the workshop as they were his customers. All the participants gave an excellent feedback on the session and opined that they were delighted customers at the end of the session
It is with a sense of great joy and pride that we bring the great news that Dr.T.S. Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya and member of the Board of the ‘Medical Research Foundation’ and ‘Vision Research Foundation’, the simple and easily accessible Dr.TSS to all of us has been chosen for one of the most coveted distinctions in the world of medicine. He has been conferred the highly prestigious ‘Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons’ the world’s highest professional qualification for Surgeons, by a most elite body comprising the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. This highly prestigious academic body is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and advancement in surgical practises, through its involvement in education, training, conducting examinations and liaison with medical institutions worldwide.
It is a glorious feather on the cap not only for him but also for Sankara Nethralaya the institution for whose growth and development he has been striving hard since its inception, a proud and highly elated Sankara Nethralaya family salutes and applauds its adorable Vice-Chairman and wishes him many more great accolades and laurels in his journey of service.
It would be interesting to recall at this juncture that it was Dr. TS.Surendran who received the senior officials from this August body in year 2014 when Sankara Nethralaya was chosen once again as a preferred centre for conducting the FRCS- Ophthalmology examinations in the South East Asia region, after a lapse of 10 years and briefed the electronic and print media on this important development.
The Sankara Nethralaya referral laboratory, as part of its deep commitment to quicker diagnosis and better management of tuberculosis has introduced the ‘Gene Xpert MTB/RIF Assay, code number-493, a World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed, revolutionary process which dramatically reduces the waiting time for diagnostic reports on both tuberculosis and multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) from the current 2 to 3 weeks to an incredible less than 2 hours. Furthermore the rapid detection of multi bacterium resistant tuberculosis, which is characterized by resistance to ISONIAZID and RIFAMPICIN two potent, front line drugs in the treatment of tuberculosis, assumes great importance as it enables the physician in selecting appropriate treatment regimens and reaching infection control decisions quickly rather than wait for 2 to 6 weeks the time it takes Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) to grow in standard culture process, with conventional drug resistance tests adding 3 more weeks to the process after isolation of M.Tuberculosis. This highly critical test is conducted at the Sankara Nethralaya referral laboratory’s ‘Revised National Tuberculosis Control program’ (RNTCP) recognized Mycrobacteriology section.
The Sankara Nethralaya referral laboratory offers this highly critical test to patients at a most affordable cost of Rs 2000/ per test, a highly subsidized price, made possible thanks to the lab being enlisted as a member in the ‘Initiatives for promoting affordable quality TB tests’ (IPAQT). Patients wishing to avail the service can do so by submitting their clinical specimen at the Sankara Nethralaya Referral laboratory, 2nd floor, Jayalakshmi Estate, Haddows Road, Chennai-6. For any further clarifications kindly contact Dr. M.Sowmiya of SN Referral laboratory (Contact no. through Intercom No.6425)
It was a program with a difference organized by the Lions International at the Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium on the 25th of July 2015, an evening when a differently ‘ABLED’ extraordinary young lady hand-held and ‘escorted’ a thrilled and amazed audience of seasoned eye care champions and supporters from the Lions Clubs and employees of a renowned eye care institution, down a little known pathway; she moved with the felicity of a person who knew her pathway and to those being led it was not a walk down a dark alley but a passage well lit and hurdle free, an eye opening trip which was enlightening, entertaining, educating and most importantly ‘Soul Stirring’.
The day’s proceedings got off with a warm welcome to the gathering, the special Chief Guest Ms. Khadija Hatim Yusufali, Lions District Governor Balaji Rathnam and his ‘Guru’ Lion G.V.Raman, by Lion S.N.Harinarayanan, he thanked the star speaker for her presence and the Lions for organizing a most meaningful program on ‘How a visually impaired person can live a meaningful and fulfilling life’.
Speaking on the occasion Lion G.V.Raman shared his experience with members of the ‘Academy of the Blind’ with the audience and lauded the visually impaired as a determined and confident lot, he expressed his wholehearted appreciation to Lion SN.Harinarayanan for propagating the cause of ‘Sight for the blind’. The senior Lion office bearer sprung a pleasant surprise to the audience by announcing that Lion Dr. SS.Badrinath, Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya has been selected by Lions International for their highest and most coveted honour ‘Ambassador of Goodwill’ for the year 2015. He added that Dr. SS.Badrinath in his characteristic humility had expressed that the award was not for him as an individual but an acknowledgement for Sankara Nethralaya and hence any representative from the institution could receive it with pride. Lion G.V. Raman added that senior office bearers of the Lions International, Chicago chapter, which was conferring the honour were however very particular that they confer their highest distinction in person on the distinguished recipient on a later date, after his return from the USA.
Ms. Sarika Gopalkrishnan, Head, Low Vision Clinic, Sankara Nethralaya, an expert on low vision, a ‘Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry’, a selector for the ‘World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) and an accomplished low vision care professional whose expertise is sought by the office of the State government’s Commission for the differently abled, in selecting low vision aids and a person passionately committed to the cause of enhancing the life of those with low vision complaints, was aptly chosen by the organizers of the function to introduce the most versatile Chief Guest and Star speaker of the day. Ms. Sarika gave a most touching account of the chief guest, describing her as a totally independent person, a perfect housewife, instructor and a role model; she shocked the audience with the amazing revelation that Ms.Khadija was an ace skydiver and mountaineer, who had scaled the snowy peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. Ms. Sarika utilized the opportunity to express her deep and heartfelt gratitude to the Lions Club, particularly to Lion S.N Harinarayanan for their generous support, which made the LVC at Sankara Nethralaya a reality. Lion Harinarayanan made a brief intervention to the intro to give the audience a touching note on how Ms Khadija came to Chennai, tracing the request from Lion Ashok Mehta from South Africa seeking a Fellowship opening at Sankara Nethralaya for Dr. Hatim and his own role in taking up the case successfully with Dr. S.S.Badrinath.
The Chief Guest of the day began her speech by highlighting some disturbing figures on visual impairment and the encouraging fact that 85% of blindness is preventable and curable. She took the audience on a spellbinding trip on how a visually impaired person could lead a ‘better than normal life’; she enchanted her audience on how simple things like a thoughtfully placed rubber band on a tooth brush, the bubbling sound of boiling tea, Braille cloth tags differentiating colours of dresses, a colour indicating clip in a dress to the most advanced, built-in gesture based i-phone, GPS Apps, talking clock, i-phone camera which makes an announcement of the image being shot, Kurzweil scanning systems and joint access with speech (JAWS) apparatus could help a visually impaired person to not only live independently but also a fulfilling life of serving fellow human beings, in her role as a physiotherapist, adding that the person in question actively browses the internet and sends mails etc. Ms Khadija ended her most absorbing and moving talk with an earnest appeal for better rehabilitation services to the visually impaired.
Speaking on the occasion Lions District Governor Shi Balaji Rathnam described visually impaired people as people with ‘Supreme Vision’ and an ‘undying spirit’, he underlined that it was more important to be ‘humane’ than ‘human’. The Governor had a high word of appreciation for the Lions
Club of Central Madras and Lion Harinarayanan the tireless champion of the visually impaired; he explained that the Lions Club of Golden Vision donates support gadgets to the visually impaired at the Kola Perumal School. Speaking on the occasion Lion K.S.Babai gave an interesting account of a visually impaired faculty member of her college who had endeared herself to her students through her great work.
The most touching and absorbing function came to an end with a Vote of Thanks by Lion C.T.Natesan, to the Chief Guest Ms. Khadija Hatim Yusufally, Sankara Nethralaya, its staff members and the Lions members assembled in large numbers.