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Matrusri Medical Center – A Synonym for Dedication

Dr Tangirala Simhadri Sastry
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 11
Month : October
Issue Number : 4
Year : 2012

Amma, in her unbounded love for Her children, established three primary institutions to cater to their basic needs, namely, hunger, education and health apart from providing shelter. These are: 1. Annapoornaalayam for providing food; 2. An Oriental College for imparting education in Sanskrit and Telugu and 3. A Medical Center to provide primary health care.

Annapoornaalayam was established on 15th August, 1958 which started serving food throughout the day to all, irrespective of class, caste, creed or religion. Amma attached so much importance to feeding her children, that she considered Annapoornaalayam as her heart! Amma used to say, ‘no one should leave the place with hunger’.

The Matrusri Oriental College was started in 1971, with the sole objective of imparting Education free in Sanskrit and Telugu primarily to those from the poorer sections of the society. In addition, boarding and lodging being provided free, many students from the backward regions of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh were benefited most. The College won many laurels even from the very inception, thanks to the untiring efforts of the Principal and the staff. In a very short span of time many students went on to work for their Ph.D. degrees also.

Coming to the Medical Center, christened ‘Matrusri Medical Center (MMC), it was inaugurated by Amma in May, 1976 in a not-so-well-equipped place. The background to the establishment of the MMC is interesting and provides a glimpse of Amma’s designs. Even before the Hospital project was envisaged, Amma asked Dr. A. Inajakumari (hereinafter called Dr. Papa, as she is affectionately called by everybody there), a devotee child working as a Gynecologist in a reputed hospital in Nellore to resign from her post and team up with Dr. S. V Subba Rao in his clinic, also in Nellore. Amma also directed Dr. Papa to learn General Medicine under the able guidance of Dr. Subba Rao, which she promptly obeyed. For the next two years she sincerely continued with the learning process and got herself deeply involved in the profession at Dr. Subba Rao’s Hospital acquiring necessary skills. It was in 1976 that Amma beckoned Dr. Papa and asked her to take charge of the MMC in Jillellamudi. Dr. Papa had not imagined, even in her dreams, that she would be asked to take the reigns of the Medical Center, for everyone in Jillellamudi thought that Dr.Janaki of Madanapalle would be entrusted with this responsibility, but very few knew that ground was already prepared by Amma even 2 years ahead to induct Dr. Papa.

The initial aim of the hospital was to provide basic health care to the inmates, visitors in case of need and to the people of Jillellamudi and neighboring villages. At the very beginning, complete functional support was provided by one devotee brother, Mr. James Campion. During the early stages of its inception, the hospital had minimal facilities with 4 -beds for inpatients, minimum Laboratory facilities and medicines for free dispensing to the patients. A couple of Foreign devotee brothers who happened to stay in Jillellamudi at that time lent their assistance to Dr. Papa in addition to a regular female nurse and a helper. Among the foreigners was one whom Amma affectionately named ‘Bhim’ and Mr. Terry, a British national. Mr. Mathukumilli Ramu and Smt. Lalitha were the other two who were helping Dr. Papa.

Since no medical facilities were available till then, not only in Jillellamudi but also in the neighboring villages, the MMC began to draw many people even from the surrounding villages. The MMC won the appreciation of one and all for its services. Gradually an ECG machine, an X-Ray Unit and Oxygen Cylinders were acquired to add to the services.

With a view to augment the resources for the MMC and to strengthen its activities, Dr. Papa started Hyma Nursing Home in Bapatla. But before that Dr. Papa had undergone an ‘Internship’ of sorts under the Divine guidance of Amma who was more like a veteran Professor of Eminence in Medical Sciences. Dr. Papa herself narrated her experiences with Amma as to how Amma gave directions in handling some relatively complicated delivery cases enquiring about the position of the baby, the FH etc. Similarly, Amma dissuaded her from the general practice followed by Junior Doctors of the times in reading the pulse of a patient of only half-a-minute instead of the stipulated 1 min duration. When she started following Amma’s advice, it greatly helped her in recognizing the missing beats in a patient and thus diagnosing the case as one of Left Ventricular Failure (LVF). This diagnosis further helped the patient to have the surgery done and thus save his life. Subsequently she treated several patients following this simple but valuable rule.

In the case of a patient with chronic diarrhea, she carried out simple Laboratory tests with the meager facilities available at her disposal. Diagnosing the case as Abdominal TB, she treated him for this ailment and relieved him of the suffering to her great satisfaction. There were several instances where the Divine directions of Amma helped her in saving many patients and restoring them to their normal life. Thus this ‘Internship’ helped Dr. Papa in improving her skills and developing expertise in medical treatment..

After shifting to Bapatla she directed her main focus to three areas of importance in Rural Health Care. These are: 1. Health Education; 2. Immunization and alleviation from Malnutrition in children, which is quite prevalent in the rural sector and 3. Preventive measures of treatment. She approached these 3 areas with missionary zeal, visiting Jillellamudi and neighboring villages immunizing children, undertaking free distribution of milk powder to children affected by malnutrition and conducting medical camps in different villages towards educating the villagers about some of the diseases, particularly prevalent in rural areas, emphasizing the need of personal hygiene.

She sought the help of Doctors from Super-specialty Hospitals in Guntur, Vijayawada and Hyderabad in conducting Medical Camps. The doctors from these hospitals extended their help rendering voluntary service.

These camps were conducted to screen the patients for diseases like Cancer, Cardiac problems, respiratory problems like Asthma, T.B. etc. Towards this end, eminent doctors like Dr. Mohan Vamsi from the Indo-American Cancer Hospital in Hyderabad lent his services bringing the equipment and the testing facilities required to screen the Cancer patients among men and women in Jillellamudi and the surrounding villages. Similarly, the Cardiologists from Guntur helped in identifying patients with cardiac problems.

The specialty of the camps conducted by the MMC lies in the fact that unlike the camps conducted by the doctors elsewhere, the patients identified in these camps as having chronic ailments where further specialist treatment is required, are not only referred to Hospitals in Guntur, Vijayawada, Hyderabad or Chennai but also continuously monitored of their progress. Even efforts are made to provide financial support in respect of economically weaker patients with such chronic ailments by seeking sponsorship for the purpose.

 It is not out of place to cite a couple of examples of these camps conducted by the MMC very recently:

A Free Medical camp was held in the School run by the Salvation Army Camp (SAC) Organization in Bapatla for the school children by Dr. Inaja Kumari with assistance from the staff of Sri Hyma Nursing Home in Bapatla and the MMC on 4th April, 2012 in connection with Amma’s birthday. Dr. Inaja Kumari also offered to provide free food to the school children every year on Amma’s birthday.

Another camp was run by the MMC in association with Dr. Mannava Radhakrishna Murty, Chairman of the Hindu College of Pharmacy and NSS wing in Mannava, the birthplace of Amma on 8th April. In this camp Dr. D. Satyanarayana a Physician, Dr. M. Siddhardha, a Dentist and A. Ravi Kamal Kumar an MS provided voluntary services along with Dr. Inaja Kumari. About 350 patients were examined during this camp and medicines were distributed free to the patients by the MMC.

The present focus of the MMC is not only to strengthen the Medical activities at Jillellamudi but also to adopt four nearby villages and render free health care. Towards this end, an Ambulance Van was acquired recently through the benevolence of some of the devotee brothers. It is heartening to note that already two villages have been identified and preliminary work has been initiated.

All these activities of the MMC have become possible by the sheer dedication and missionary zeal of one single individual, namely, Dr Inaja Kunari (Dr. Papa), albeit with the support of several devotee brothers and the helping staff, the Divine Grace of Amma remaining the underlying support. She has been rendering service with ever smiling countenance unmindful of her own personal inconveniences. “Vaidyo Narayano Harih!” (Vaidya, the doctor is like the Lord Narayana the God to the patient) is the common adage used in the context of Doctor Patient relationship. But Amma modified to read “Rogi Narayano Harih!” (meaning Rogi or the patient is also like the Lord Narayana the God to the Doctor). Dr. Papa acted true to this modified adage. Her dedication has been born out of her intense devotion and unflinching faith in Amma. Amma rewarded her by choosing her as one among her ‘Consorts’! (Amma is deemed as the Lord Purushothama) Looking at the commendable service rendered by her over long years, one would like to describe her as the Florence Nightingale of Jillellamudi! One would even be tempted in this context, to draw a parallel between Florence Nightingale and Dr. Papa. While the former rendered untiring and dedicated service to the soldiers in the battlefield of war, the latter did yeoman service to those wounded in the battlefield of life.

The MMC thus stands as a synonym for dedication. The MMC is sure to deliver better service if only her hands are strengthened by those doctors who come forward to render voluntary service. The MMC invites with open heart those willing to serve the rural populace with such missionary zeal which is of utmost importance.

In addition, further boost is needed to improve the infrastructure for which financial support even from International Agencies is earnestly sought. The MMC is the right place for the International Agencies supporting Health Care Delivery in Rural areas, to lend their financial support. It would also be a desirable proposition to raise ‘Benevolent Fund’ from those interested among the devotee brothers and other Philanthropic Organizations not only to provide sound financial base to the activities of MMC, but also to help those suffering from chronic and serious ailments, particularly among the economically weaker sections in securing required medical attention.

It is earnestly hoped that in the years to come the MMC would attain greater heights in health care delivery and have a bright future with the Divine Grace of Amma!

Jayaho Mata!!

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