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Posted on : Dec 19, 2012
“I Will Stay Here and Serve Forever”
- a short conversation with Dr. M. Sasirekha
The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi was graciously inaugurated by Bhagawan Baba on November 22, 1991. Since then two decades have passed by and thousands have found health and happiness in its holy precincts.
The Hospital started with the Department of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery but within a year the Department of Urology began and in 1994 started the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. M. Sasirekha, who is currently the Head of Department of Ophthalmology and who has served in this Hospital for nearly 15 years says, “As long as I am fit I want to serve here in any capacity.” Coming from a family of Sai devotees her commitment to this mission is complete.
Radio Sai's Bishu Prusty spoke to her a couple of days prior to the Hospital's 21st anniversary on November 20, 2012.
Radio Sai: Sairam! This department commenced operations just three years after the hospital was inaugurated. Since then it has come a long way in treating many patients from across the country. Even as you stand here, I see so many patients behind us; it looks like a very busy Out Patient Department. Tell us how this department since its inception has served patients with vision problems?
Dr. Sasirekha: As you rightly said, the department came into being just three years after the hospital was inaugurated. At that time we had an Operation Theatre functioning in the Super Specialty Hospital and we had our Outpatient Patient Department (OPD) in the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital. The number has grown over the years and consequently, we moved the whole set up here. We now have a good screening block where doctors check and take up patients’ cases that need treatment either as an inpatient or as an outpatient.
In those days, doctors used to screen patients in the OPD at the General Hospital. Those patients who needed further evaluation and treatment had to make transport arrangements, come here and continue with the screening and treatment. They had to spend money. Today all this is possible in one campus. Patients go to the Screening Block first, get screened and whoever needs further treatment then proceed to the OPD area. Here they undergo another round of complete evaluation. After this, based on the requirement, they proceed for treatment. Initially, we started with cataracts, now we have expanded into other areas. We get patients from neighbouring villages and from states far away such as West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, on three days every week.
We get quiet a variety of patients – all of them come here having heard of Bhagawan’s service to humanity. While it is true that patients’ monetary problems bring them here, the reputation of the Hospital staff for loving care is another drawing factor. They are touched by the treatment ward staff give them and they carry home this beautiful experience. These patients, in turn, bring in other patients for treatment.
When we ask new patients as to why they come here for treatment instead of getting treated at home, they reply that their friend had received treatment here and had strongly recommended this Hospital.
I joined this hospital in 1998 and over the years I have seen the numbers grow. The patients are here not because of us, but only because of Bhagawan.
RS: What are the kinds of procedures we have done in the past and what do you foresee for the future?
Dr. Sasirekha: We have started treating patients for cataract, retina service and glaucoma. Later we included corrective surgeries for children’s cross eye problems and started treating cataract as well as any other eye injury of children.
Our initial attempts at treating cataract were very conservative – we began with only cataract removal. Later we started implanting Intraocular lens when other hospitals also introduced it. Today we offer advanced treatments. We have ultra modern instruments for test such as Phacoe. In many other hospitals, a cataract surgery would require the patient to be in the hospital for just a few hours after the surgery. The patient would most probably be discharged in the evening. However, we believe in giving better care. We retain the patient for an extra day discharging him or her only on the day after the surgery.
When I joined this Hospital, I came in only as a general ophthalmologist without any particular specialty skill. I was later sent for specialization in retina service. I am very happy now – I am able to serve Bhagawan’s hospital with a specialized skill! I have been utilizing my skill for over 10 years. I am very happy serving patients every day. Yesterday we had a very happy patient thanking us profusely and sharing gifts with everyone.
RS: What is your most thrilling moment working in this Hospital?
Dr. Sasirekha: When the patients say that we are almost their gods, that’s the thrilling moment. After recovery, they come to us and touch our feet! It is a very emotional moment. We tell them that we are nobody and that Bhagawan is doing everything, that we are just His hands – He is the Doer. During a procedure we tell the patients to do Namasmarana, so that everything goes on smoothly.
We think about Bhagawan during every moment – right from when we take in a patient till discharge. When patients come here, they have faith in us. But when they leave, they leave with faith in Bhagawan.
Another important thing is the academic side. We get both academic exposure as well as clinical experience. We started with one post graduate student, now we have seven. Our department also got accreditation. Recently, when a senior doctor retired, we experienced a little shortcoming. We prayed to Bhagawan to help us out. Soon we received our accreditation. It was a wonderful moment. It was a fulfilling moment for the student, the teacher as well as for the entire department.
Once we had one of Bhagawan’s students come here for treatment. He had injured the black portion of the eye while playing and tissue was protruding from the tear. I was very nervous to operate on him. Did you know what happened?
Before I started the surgery, Bhagawan sent a pack of Vibhuti instructing that it be applied on the student’s forehead before the start of the surgery. I don’t know how I did that operation. Everything fell in place and he regained 100% vision. That is one incident I will never forget.
RS: As you were talking about the academic program, I recollect that one student had received a gold medal.
Dr. Sasirekha: Yes. I am very happy to state that about 2-3 years ago one of our students received the gold medal (Awarded by the National Board of Examination, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the title of DNB). He was a Sai devotee when he joined us. A few more students have joined us after their course. One student has specialized in glaucoma with fellowship from Sankara Nethralaya (Chennai).
Another student has also received fellowship in Retina Services from Madurai Aravind (Aravind Medical Research Foundation, Madurai, India). She will be joining with us shortly. We have received many bright students who have returned to serve us here. I’m really proud of them.
RS: Wonderful! You have been in the hospital for over 10 years now. How does it feel working in this Hospital and where do you see yourself in the hospital in 5-10 years from now?
Dr. Sasirekha: I do not know – it is all Bhagawan’s will. I would like to work as long as I am permitted. I may have to retire in a few years, but would still like to serve in any capacity as long as I am eligible and as long as I am fit. When the hospital started, there was no ophthalmology department. Once it began, I took the first opportunity to join. It’s my aim to stay here forever as long as Bhagawan wishes.
RS: Thank you very much Ma’am.
Dr. Sasirekha: Sai Ram!
Thank you and loving Sai Ram,
Team Radio Sai