RC Chandausi nurtures a 60-year-old eye hospital

It says a lot about the dedication of a group of Rotarians from a club if they have nurtured a project for 60 long years… actually from the very year their club was chartered. Here is the incredible story from a small place like Chandausi, about 40 km from Moradabad in UP, where the Rotary Club of Chandausi, chartered in 1958, started its eye hospital project the same year.

Chaurasia-eye-hospital
Patients at the Rotary Sundarlal Eye Hospital, Chandausi.

Sixty years later, what began as a small eye facility, has blossomed into a multi-speciality hospital, which apart from providing specialised eye care, including retina surgery, also offers medical services in pathology, physiotherapy, skin ailments, etc. Describing their early days, past president of the club Hari Shankar Agarwal says the facility — started on a 5 acre-land donated by a resident Raj Dulari Devi, in memory of her late husband Sundarlal, a local jeweller — began with bimonthly services in association with the Aligarh Eye Hospital, about 11 km away. “In those days, patients used to come from nearby places for their eye problems,” he says, walking me around a strikingly clean, posh and huge hospital, which now attracts patients from a radius of 100 sq km… from the districts of Bareilly, Bulandshahr, Banayu, Sambhal, etc.” The Institute has been named after Sundarlal.

After a couple of years, eye consultation was given once a week, and after 1980 it commenced a daily consultation and treatment service. But the eye surgeons still came from outside. Now this eye institute has four permanent eye surgeons; for the other medical services it offers, such as skin treatment, visiting doctors come from Surat and treatment is available for the weaker sections for skin grafting, cosmetic surgery and other skin ailments too.

Only ₹50 is charged to every outpatient, and if a poor person requiring surgery contacts any of us, we deposit the money out of our pockets and tell the doctors: Please don’t send anybody out without treatment.
– Satish Chand Gupta, Past President, RC Chandausi

In eye care, says Anil Kumar Agarwal, President of the club, the majority of cases pertain to cataract surgery; “we do 6,000 cataract operations a year and the surgery is done using the latest technology — phacoemulsification. (The cataract is emulsified into two or four pieces and then aspirated out of the eye through suction). At the OPD, a whopping number of 65,000 patients are seen every year.

 

3 crore annual budget

Past president of the club Satish Chand Gupta adds that from last year, retina consultation and surgery have been started at this eye hospital and a retina specialist comes from Delhi every week. “About 60 per cent of the patients who get care at this hospital are poor and we give them subsidised treatment. For IOL (intraocular lens) for cataract patients we charge between ₹2,600 to 26,000, depending on the patient’s capacity to pay.”

eye-hospital

Not one patient coming here for treatment has medical insurance, he adds. For this iconic project of D 3110, the annual budget is ₹3 crore, and the profit is used to upgrade the equipment at the institute or invested in the Rotary Institute of Management, another important project this club has undertaken.

He says the club has never approached The Rotary Foundation for any funds or attempted global grants, “because we never felt any need for it.”

What about CSR funds; do they have plans to involve corporates, I ask the Rotarians from the club who take me to the hospital. In unison, they say, “Not required; money is never a problem.”

Small wonder then that the charitable arm of the club that does these projects has a fixed deposit of ₹5 crore! And the value of the land they own is worth more than ₹5 crore. One of the members makes it clear that “not a single paise from the profit we make at the hospital or the management institute is used for club activities, meetings or fellowship.”

I even hear a comment that so absorbed are the club members in giving their time, energy and expertise to these two iconic projects that this 30-member club is not really interested in getting any new members.

 

Quality education made affordable

Giving details on the management institute, which is again located on a sprawling, neatly turned out campus of around seven acres, Gupta, who is this year the club secretary, says it was started in 2008 and offers to about 700 students courses such as B Ed, BSc, BBA, BCA, B Com and BA. It is heartening to know that 300 of the 700 students are girls, and some campus recruitment also takes place here. “We have built this institute on land that we bought for ₹50 lakh and the money for that was raised by our members.”

Not a single paise from the profit we make at the hospital or the management institute is used for club activities, meetings or fellowship.

Aspirants for higher education throng the Rotary Institute from the surrounding areas and the deserving poor are given a fee waiver. Anyway, the tuition fee is nominal at between ₹5,000 and ₹25,000 a year.

On future plans for the eye institute, Dinesh Agarwal, past president and secretary of the eye institute, says, “We have already started an Institute of Optometry last year and are offering a two-year optometry course. As far as eye care is concerned, we want to take it to the best level we can. Money will never be a constraint for us.”

Gupta proudly adds, “This is the only eye hospital in this region that sees over 200 outpatients a day, and doctors in this region agree that such a big OP turnout is not seen anywhere else in this area. Many people ask me what is this hospital like and I tell them unless you come and see it for yourself, you can’t even imagine that such a modern and sparklingly clean hospital can exist in a place like Chandausi!”

“Only ₹50 is charged to every outpatient, and if a poor person requiring surgery contacts any of us, we deposit the money out of our pockets and tell the doctors: Please don’t send anybody out without treatment.”

Eye examination being conducted.
Eye examination being conducted.

“Even in our management institute, we charge ₹25,000 annual fee only for BBA and BCA courses. For B Com, the fee is only ₹6,000, for B Sc ₹5,000 and BA ₹4,000. Here too, many Rotarians sponsor deserving students’ education.”

I leave Chandausi totally in awe of the amazing humanitarian service done by this small club of just 30 members. What they are doing in healthcare in a State like UP is commendable enough. But what is even more commendable is the quality of education on offer at the Rotary management institute. Particularly when you consider that at a nearby government college, classes have not been held for the B Com course for over a decade. But admissions take place; the students fend for themselves, appear for exams and pass out!

On the dedication of these Rotarians, PDG Akhilesh Kotiwal comments: “Even though our district was undistricted for over one year, the Rotarians of RC Chandausi continued with both their projects with the same amount of passion and dedication, and held regular polio camps with the help of Rotarian doctors.”

 

Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat

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