Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to visit divine forces at work in remote rural India. It is amazing to see the transformation that a few good people can bring around with their commitment and passion. There is no adulation, no positive strokes, no awards – the commitment is totally Service, Service, Service. This is Karma Yoga in its purest form, True meditation – and they have found peace happiness and satisfaction.
The 3 Centres we visited are all located in Rural India – about 125 to 200 Km from Bangalore.
- Rishi Valley Rural health centre (Near Madanapalli) – http://rvrhc.blogspot.com
- Tribal health Initiative at Sittilingi (100 Km from Krishnagiri) – http://www.tribalhealth.org
- Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement at Saragur , H.D.Kote – 70 Km from Mysore – http://www.svym.org
There are a few common things that have made these initiatives so successful in the last 25 – 30 years since they were started from a thatched hut or 1 room.
- The dedication and commitment of the doctors who started these centres. They could have had great careers in the cities with big hospitals but they consciously decided to tread a different path. They started small – hands on, and built it brick by brick.
- The strong focus on community development and awareness. They are Human Centric Organisations focused on Holistic Health. All of them have invested in counselling and guiding people to lead a healthy life. As Dr Seetharam at SVYM pointed out – ” We are not here just to kill the Bacteria & Virus but to ensure that we provide Holistic services to the community to ensure that they don’t fall sick”. And they have taken it to a totally different level with a team of dedicated counsellors and even a Radio Channel to spread awareness.
- All of which has translated in deep trust and overall development of a healthy community
Dr Regi & Leela started the Tribal Health Initiative at Sittilingi in a remote hilly tribal valley 100 Km from Krishnagiri. It all started with a thatched hut with no electricity – but over time they have built a 30 bed hospital with 3 operating theatres and have earned the trust of the community. Treating over 100 patients every day they conduct ~ 75 surgeries every month. What is more important is their initiative to train the Tribal women as counsellors. The core team trains the local village women who become the first point of contact to spread the awareness on health , sanitation , pre & post natal care – and this has created wonders.
Dr Karthik and Kamkshi at the Rishi Valley Rural health centre had a similar start almost 20 years back. Trained in AFMC Dr Karthik left a successful career to start the centre with his wife Kamakshi – a pathologist. Today they serve over 200 patients a day – some coming as far as 100 Km away. Madanapalli is a district HQ with a Govt Hospital – but the trust and quality of service they offer is so high that people prefer coming to them. They have taken the level of service to a totally different level and even have a local cobbler designing shoes specifically for diabetes patients.
While talking to Dr Kamakshi she introduced us to a young girl from Washington University St Louis who was visiting them on a Fulbright scholarship to research the high instance of Diabetes in the area. Inspite of the idyllic rural setting – the instance of Diabetes, Hypertension & Thyroid are widely prevalent amongst the villagers. Preliminary study indicates the usage of pesticides and extensive use of Palm Oil in cooking as possible reasons. Here again the focus is on counselling & advisory services for healthy living – how to shift to Millets , the right diet , enabling them to access the best of Govt programs etc.
I had written in one of my earlier blogs for India to Progress – you need 3 things Healthcare , Education & Jobs. Most of these places seem to be following this to perfection. They all have a school that helps the community children get educated. Quality of education is excellent , schools are neat and clean , well equipped , good teachers. They also provide jobs to the local community – the Nurses , technicians , drivers all come from the local community. At SVYM they have even tied up with Mysore University for a 2 year management program in community development.
Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) was founded by Dr Bala when he was graduating from Mysore Medical College and he has not looked back in the last 30 years since its inception. Today the centre has a 100 bed hospital and outreach program that covers almost all the districts of Karnataka. The institute is doing ground level practical research on areas that impact the lives of the local in close coordination with the Govt. The Viveka school of excellence adjacent to the hospital is an excellent facility for overall development of the children. The approach is 100% Holistic – Dr Bala the Secretary explained that SVYM even helps the local get legal help when they face harassment regarding their land , they help them the documentation to apply for Govt aid programs, they even supply them seeds to promote kitchen gardening – they are a one point social connect to the localities.
At all the three centres the doctors were clear that there would be a nominal charge for services. This contributes less than 50% of their expenses – but there are compelling reasons to charge. Dr Balasubramanya explained beautifully why it is important to charge a notional amount. This is what he had to say
“Charging helps preserve the poor patients dignity – he is now demanding service. He has the right to question. This puts pressure on the institution. We are a country where we walk in to a guests house with a token gift of fruits or flowers or sweets – even the poor tribal does not like the concept of Free ”
The other common theme was the element of trust. Dr Anup explained the importance of building Trust thru Human Connect. Rural people are simple folks. You need to advertise to them. They believe what they see. they believe their community. When the same doctor visits them or treats them, is genuine, doesn’t con them – then slowly familiarity breeds favourability. Then the Trust quotient builds up and spreads word of mouth.
These are hospitals that are spotlessly clean, efficiently run, professionally managed with well defined process and as the mission statement at the Tribal health centre says it all – their mission is to play an integral part in the communities development. India runs because of such people and their selfless service.
They say “Find Purpose – The Means Follow” – and these doctor teams have demonstrated this saying word by word. Dr Karthik, Dr Kamakshi, Dr Regi, Dr Lalitha, Dr Balasubramaniam and his wonderful team are all testimony to this.
They are helping define what the new age hospitals should look like. Its time the management from Apollo , Fortis , Manipal …. hospitals paid them a visit. And if you ask ” What is the one things that distinguishes these hospitals from the 5 Star Corporate hospitals of Indian cities ? ” – the answer in one word – GREED.
You can play your part – visit their websites and feel free to contribute what best you can – remember that they need help from Corporates and people like you to manage 50% of their operational costs.