July 1 is commemorated as National Doctor’s Day in India. It is the birth and death anniversary of the physician Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy (1882-1962), who also served as the second Chief Minister of West Bengal till his death.
Anyone who has a doctor in the family knows the comfort and assurance that it brings. My father-in-law, Dr Nagarajan has been our very own doctor on call, way before remote consultation became the norm during Covid-19. No matter where we live, he is just a call away, not only for family, but also for friends, neighbours and acquaintances who need a medical opinion.
Even today, at the age of 82, he still sees patients at the clinic, Sharada Clinic (named after his mom) that he runs at his residence. There was a period of time when we were worried about him getting exposed to Covid-19. During the lockdown the clinic was briefly shut but he reopened it because patients need their local doctors. They much prefer going to a small clinic rather than a big hospital.
After finishing his medical course and internship at Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore in 1961, he worked in the Davangere Government Hospital for a few months, before joining Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Hospital in Bangalore on 8th December 1962.
In 1970, he received training to be an anesthesiologist at Christian Medical College Vellore, and after that he was a key participant of most of the surgeries that took place in the HAL Hospital. He went on to become the Deputy Head of the hospital. During this time my mother-in-law Leela, served on the teaching staff of HAL’s school for special children, Vatsalya. Through sheer association with the dedicated doctor that he was, she too is quite well acquainted with the profession!
Well, he became my father-in-law after he retired, but prior to that too, he was ever so helpful with caring for my grandfather who used to live in Domlur, not far away from the HAL Colony where they lived.
In October 1992, they moved to Ojhar, Nashik where Dr Nagarajan took over as Head of the HAL Hospital. And that’s where he retired, on 30th June 1995 – precisely 25 years ago, after almost 33 years of service. One of the highlights of the time in Ojhar was when the hospital received the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) award for the Best Public Sector Hospital for Small Family Norms and Welfare in Dec 1994. Dr Nagarajan along with Dr Malathi Vyavahare went to Delhi for the function and collected the award from the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao.
After retirement, they returned to Bangalore and that’s when Sharada Clinic was started. He admits that he was kept as busy as he was during the hospital days. Being an anesthesiologist, his services were in demand in the hospitals in the area. And then there were people who needed the doctor to make house visits. So till a few years ago, he used to do all of these things. Many a life has been saved with timely ECGs at the clinic. Accessible to all economic classes – patients are charged based on their capacity to pay, and given medicines if available in the clinic.
Appa, Uncle, Grandpa – thank you for being there for us at all times.
During this Covid-19 pandemic, doctors have been the heroes, risking their lives and spending long hours saving patients. A report in The Tribune indicates that at least 70 doctors in India have died from Covid-19. They could have locked themselves at home, right? Let us all follow precautions and make it easier for our doctors and the hospitals.
Read about HAL Colony and the hospital in an earlier post here