The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Temple of the eye’ to open doors in January

For hundreds of Calcuttans who flock to Sankara Nethralaya, in Chennai, to address serious eye conditions, the countdown to cure closer home begins on Thursday. The ‘temple of the eye’ is coming to town next January.

Sankara Narayana Nethralaya, a tripartite venture of Sankara Nethralaya, Asia Heart Foundation (AHF) and Rotary Medical Research Institute, will be flagged off on September 19 by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Sector V, Salt Lake. The super-speciality centre, conceptualised by eye surgeon S.S. Badrinath and cardiac surgeon Devi Shetty, will open its doors to “the people of the east” on January 16.

“It has been a long-cherished dream to set up a state-of-the-art facility in Calcutta and I am grateful to the West Bengal chief minister, without whose unstinting support this project wouldn’t have been possible,” Badrinath, chairman of Sankara Nethralaya, told Metro on Tuesday.

Badrinath, along with his wife and a reconnoitre team, had met Bhattacharjee and health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra at Writers’ Buildings in July with a proposal of bringing Nethralaya’s cutting-edge eye treatment to Calcutta. Bhattacharjee had shown keen interest in the project and promised “any help required” to the Padma Bhushan and AHF vice-chairman Alok Roy, representing Shetty at the closed-door meeting.

Located on the three-acre campus of the existing Rotary hospital opposite the Webel STP II, Sankara Narayana Nethralaya will open with a 25,000-sq-ft facility. The outpatient department will be equipped to treat at least 200 cases a day. “Initially, we will perform 40 to 50 surgical procedures every day, including the most modern cataract and vitreo-retinal surgeries and IOL implantation,” explained Badrinath. In keeping with its ‘curing with compassion’ philosophy, a large number of indigent patients will be treated free.

The centre will open with 40 beds, to be expanded to a 250-bed facility. “It’s our commitment to the people of Calcutta to create a centre of excellence in eyecare, and together, we will make it happen,” said Devi Shetty from Bangalore.

Sankara Narayana Nethralaya will also have a tele-ophthalmology department, to initially link Calcutta with Chennai.

“Later, we can extend the ambit of the tele-medicine facility to the remote areas of rural Bengal. Early detection will serve to prevent blindness in a large section of the rural populace,” said Badrinath.

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