This story revolves around a man whose mission is to restore sight of the blind whose work brings light to millions of lives each year. Veteran eye surgeon Dr Govindappa Venakataswamy’s work has resulted in one of the world’s most excellent models of service delivery.
He was born and raised in a low-income family of Tamil Nadu. Popularly known as Dr V, he received his medical degree from the Stanley Medical College in Chennai and joined the Indian Army Medical Corps to practice obstetrics. But a degenerative disease attacked his hands after which he was unable to hold even a pen. Gradually recovering, he decided to join government college after one year and started practicing surgery.
During a visit to Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Dr. V was highly impressed by McDonald assembly line operation style, and he decided to open a chain of hospitals for the poor people where one can able to avail eye treatment at very low cost. And thus the concept of Arvind Eye Hospital was born.
If you can’t pay them you don’t have to. If you can’t come to them they’ll come to you.
In 1976, a 11-bed hospital was set up with six beds reserved for patients who could not pay and five for those who contributed modest sum. Aravind system works in a unique way where they choose highly-skilled interns to assist doctors. While the doctor operates on one patient, the interning doctor learns and speeds up the surgeries. At their peak, the hospital did over 100 surgeries in a day. This model became the subject of a Harvard Business School case study and is being adopted by many big hospitals across the globe.
As of now, the group has treated more than 32 million patients and performed over 4 million successful surgeries. Not only this, but they also developed a cheap, high-quality implantable lenses which exported to more than 80 countries around the world.
In a country with about 20 million blind eyes, 80% of them due to lack of efficient, effective and economical medical services, Dr Venakataswamy’s initiative is a big one.