“I will treat without exception all who seek my ministrations.”– from the Hippocratic Oath.
60 year old Savitaben (name changed) just underwent heart surgery, which cost Rs. 6 lakhs.
72-year old Ashwin Shah (name changed) had his prostrate removed as Cancer was detected in the same, which cost Rs. 4 lakhs.
Himal Patel (name changed) had Cataract Surgery on both eyes, costing Rs. 2 lakhs totally.
All of them were fortunate enough to avail of the best treatment from the Shree Krishna Hospital in Anand as they could afford the same. But as they availed their own treatment, they sponsored treatment for a patient from a poor background too. Because that’s how this hospital operates in order to meet its mission; which is to treat all patients who come to the hospital, irrespective of their financial condition. One could call them a Robinhood of sorts!
The outdoor services of the hospital are divided into two sections: the General OPD, and the Privilege Day Care (PDC) Service. No registration or consultation charges are taken for the General OPD services. The PDC is equipped with the best in class facilities. It is the hospital’s very own concept for providing personalized and prompt medical care for those who can afford to pay a little more for the personal attention they receive. The patients of PDC get priority with reference to consultation, investigations and finally at the pharmacy where the medicines are bought and given by the team which accompanies them during their visit in the hospital. The PDC’s substantial income helps cover the losses incurred as a result of providing free and subsidized treatment to patients of the general ward.
During the last financial year, 27,937 patients benefitted from the indoor services (an increase of 2% compared to the previous year). The share of general service was at 94%; the rest being occupied by privilege service. Which essentially means that 6% of the patients funded the treatment costs for their own plus 94% other patients!
Like 2.5 year old Jaydeep, who availed of a yearlong chemotherapy treatment for Leukemia. Jaydeep’s father is a daily wage labourer, and can thus earn Rs. 6,000 at best, a month. Or Deviben. Mother of 6 daughters, Deviben’s second eldest daughter gave birth to premature twins. At 880gms and 830gms, these babies needed to be at a NICU, till healthier. Had it not been for the hospital’s cross subsidization, the twins would, in all likelihood, not have survived.
The real meaning of medicine is care and extending a helping hand, yet somewhere along the way things have changed. Hospitals and medical centres have begun to function more and more like profit oriented corporate organisations. There is no one to blame. It is just the way things are in the modern world, with its critical shortage of time and its seemingly single-minded focus on the bottom line. But there are a dedicated few who swim against this tide – a few individuals and institutions around the world whose motivation is compassion rather than commerce.
Charotar Arogya Mandal is among those dedicated few. It was set up in 1976 by former Finance and Home Minister Dr. HM Patel. His vision: to offer comprehensive and personalized healthcare, delivered with commitment, compassion and at an affordable cost to all those in need of it. 30 years on, his daughter accompanied by a team of over 1,000 staff, are keeping his dream alive.
At this hospital, care comes before paperwork. Attention before money and insurance. And their best doctors treat the richest and the most underprivileged patients with the same steadfast dedication. They take great pride in sharing the fact that NO ONE has EVER left their doors unattended.
The hospital is ranked among Gujarat’s most professional healthcare centers, complete with facilities like ICUs, OTs, a Trauma Center, MRI and CT-Scan Machines, NABL-accredited Labs, and a NABH-accredited Blood Bank. It also houses a state-of-the-art Cardiac Center and a modern Cancer Centre. There’s also an affiliated and attached Medical College, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, School of Nursing and an Institute of Physiotherapy. It is also a referral hospital for many, including the Tribhuvandas Foundation, which is Asia’s largest NGO working in over 600 villages in the field of infant and maternal care. It is also a referral of all medical-legal cases within 25kms of Karamsad.
The hospital has devised innovative outreach programmes to help people in their own villages. Being a tobacco growing belt, the Charutar region has a high rate of tobacco consumption leading to an increased occurrence of oral cancer among the local populace. High incidence of breast and cervical cancer among women of a certain age has also been recorded. Efforts to tackle this are being made through the Cancer Awareness, Education & Early Detection Project that is run in over 600 villages through as many trained village health workers. Then there’s Krupa, their rural health insurance scheme, which is aimed at extending the safety net of modern health facilities & services to communities living in the villages and towns. For a mere sum of Rs. 90, a person receives an annual insurance cover of Rs. 5,000 through Krupa.
Says Dr. Amrita Patel, current Chairman and daughter of the Founder, “We exist to provide quality education and healthcare to the least privileged of our society. Though this is a charitable organisation, it strives for excellence in all that it does. ”
In 19X alone, the hospital has given free treatment worth about Rs. 150 lakhs ($350,000) to their inpatients every year. This benefits about half of their inpatients i.e. about 7,000 inpatients in a year.
A chat with current CEO Mr. Sandeep Desai reveals that running a hospital with no intention of profit is fraught with challenges of its own. He says, “Not many people buy into our vision. We have faced great difficulty convincing the medical fraternity itself about our vision.” Which is why HR, amongst other items, has been an area of concern. Top-level doctors here get a salary at par with entry-level doctors in for profit hospitals. So clearly, it’s the vision of the hospital that attracts and keeps doctors here. A fact that’s reinforced by looking at the average term a doctor serves here – 12 years!
Mr. Desai himself has been around for 14 years. He got connected with the organisation through Dr. Amrita Patel, current Chairperson and daughter of the founder, during his previous stint. He decided to come on board because he felt he could relate to the vision and felt he was a good fit to take that forward. He says, “My previous organisation could easily function without me. But the Mandal could only advance with a person like me. I felt my time and skills would be better utilized here.” He also recalled an incident from his youth days, which he feels, subconsciously moves him toward the cause. During his IRMA days, he was required to do an internship in a rural organisation. He thus spent 10 weeks, 50 kilometers from Shahpur, working with tribals in the villages there. During this stint, he worked closely with a nurse from Scotland, who was serving there on an exchange programme of sorts. Her dedication, commitment and compassion to the villagers is something that has always stayed with him.
“I will treat without exception all who seek my ministrations,” is part of the Hippocratic Oath, the oath doctors take on starting their practise for the first time, swearing to practice medicine honestly. This is clearly one hospital where they take the oath seriously.