An eye hospital in West Bengal gets a new building

In keeping with its legacy of providing eyecare to the poor and marginalised, RID 3291 has shifted its Joynagar Eye Hospital at South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal to a state-of-the-art building which will have initial capacity to perform 5,000 surgeries and examine 50,000 OPD patients a year. “We will double our performance in 2–3 years as the swanky, 10,000 sqft building will have an array of latest equipment to do intricate procedures to treat glaucoma, retinal diseases and modern Lasik eye surgeries,” says Vikram Tantia, member of RC Calcutta Chowrenghee and a key executive of the project team.

From Left: DRFC Sudip Mukherjee, RI Director Anirudha Roychowdhury, project mentor Binod Khaitan, DG Hiralal Yadav and PDG Rajani Mukerji.

Given the outpouring of patients including those referred by its 23 vision centres across villages and blocks, the old rented building was bursting at the seams, in spite of doing 30,000 OPD screenings and 3,500 surgeries a year, most of them routed through its outreach centres. What started as a modest vision centre at Mathurapur block in the Sundarbans in 2004, thanks to the initiative of RCC Human Development Centre (RCC HDC) sponsored by RC Central Calcutta, gradually expanded following a Rotary survey in 2007. The study called for its relocation to Joynagar, a small town which is a two-hour drive from Kolkata, and “our new rented building was close to the railway station and also well-linked by roads. Seeing our good work, the landlord vacated from first floor and gave the space to us to expand our eyecare services,” recalls Binod Khaitan, project mentor. “From three days a week screening 10–15 patients in 2007 to 3,500 cataract surgeries and over 30,000 OPD visits in 2023, we have come a long way at the Joynagar Hospital. But with just 5,000 sqft in all, we had space constraint, and had to cope with surging patients throughout the year.” Cataract procedure was started in 2008.

A 28-member team including four consulting surgeons, 10 optometrists and 14 locally trained nurses manned the daily operations at the hospital. With the urgency to expand its service, a 10,000 sqft building was constructed at a cost of ₹1.5 crore (including land cost) in a joint project where in RCs Calcutta Chowrenghee, Calcutta Yuvis and RCC HDC, apart from other donors, pitched in with their contributions.

A red-letter day

On Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary, Jan 23, the hospital moved to its posh new building, just a km away from the old site, and was rechristened as ‘Joynagar Rotary Eye Hospital,’ the 12th such facility in RID 3291’s roster of eye hospitals. “The OPD on the ground floor (5,000 sqft) is fully operational since January getting 50–70 patients a day. Medical equipment ($32,000) was made available on time through a global grant project between RCs Calcutta Chowrenghee and Singapore, RID 3310,” explains Tantia.

DG Hiralal Yadav inaugurates the new building of Joynagar Eye Hospital. Also seen are (from L) RID Roychowdhury, Trustee in-charge Sajid Hossain, DRFC Sudip Mukherjee, PDG Rajani Mukerji and RC Calcutta Chowrenghee president Meena Khemka.

They are now waiting for licence to operate the OT room and the installation of OT equipment for which a global grant worth $37,000 — between RCs Calcutta Yuvis and Guildford Wey, RID 1145, UK — was sanctioned in March. “If everything goes as planned, the OT room on the first floor (5,000 sqft) will be operational by April or the first week of May. If you add the value of two GG projects with the building cost, our total cost including equipment will be around ₹4 crore with CSR grants chipping in with ₹30 lakh,” says Khaitan. His project team has applied for the name change of the hospital with the Trust Registration.

While the 80-year-old Binod Khaitan and his RCC team have been at the heart of the success story of the Joynagar hospital blossoming into a major ophthalmic care centre, “I am now keen to pass on the leadership mantle to the younger generation so that we can sustain the growth of the hospital without any let up in its multifaceted services,” smiles Khaitan. The new hospital building was inaugurated by RI director Anirudha Roychowdhury, along with DG Hiralal Yadav. DRFC Sudip Mukherjee, DGND Tapas Bhattacharya, PDGs Rajani Mukerji and Prabhir Chatterjee were also present.

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