VHS Medical Centre has a range of patients across social & economic spectrum
About five decades ago, a young doctor, well-armed with three MRCPs and fine training in neurology at some of the best institutes of the world, chose to come back home to India to work. It’s not every body that can throw away lucre because his sense of justice was superior. Krishnamoorthy Srinivas, octogenarian and senior neurologist, however, had no doubts about the path he wanted to take.
A true ‘Sishya’ of the legendary K.S. Sanjivi, founder of the Voluntary Health Services Medical Centre, Prof. Srinivas had figured out by then that “I needed to be at a place where I could treat anybody, including poor patients and have the freedom to do what I chose to do.” That is why he readily agreed to set up an outpatient clinic at the VHS, though he knew he could only hope to function out of a corridor in the building and with the barest minimum furniture. In January 1965, thus the Department of Neurology was born at an institution that declared its raison d’être to make quality heath care accessible to all. By Pongal this year, he enters his 50th year in the VHS.
In nearly half-a-century, the department has grown from strength to strength, and become the cornerstone for top notch neurosciences, but also of research, training, and teaching in the specialisation. Now, renamed as the Institute of Neurological Sciences, it continues to stick by its founding principle of serving the poor — 80 per cent of its patients pay little or nothing. Prof. Srinivas says the Centre, which he now serves as Chairman Emeritus, has a range of patients, across the social and economic spectrum.
From patients undergoing treatment for epilepsy, dementia or stroke rehabilitation, to young corporate executives seeking professional opinion, the range is nearly representative of not only groups of people but also diseases of the mind and brain as well. VHS CARES offers comprehensive services to help patients get back on their feet after a debilitating stroke or head injury and is efficiently led by E.S. Krishnamoorthy (Following in the footsteps of his father, Prof. Srinivas), who is also Director of the Institute of Neurological Sciences.
Over several years, this Institute has brought thought leaders and practitioners of neurology to Chennai and given the city a chance to hear some of the finest minds in the world hold forth on the complex and fascinating brain and mind, and the interface between the two.
Part of the reason why the Institute managed to achieve all that it has over the past 48 years is the perspicacity of a man who had Corporate Social Responsibility all sorted out decades before it became a fancy thing that every one did. As one of the leaders in his field, Prof. Srinivas, who comes from an illustrious family himself, was able to leverage his connections with the who’s who of Chennai, and the city’s industrial houses found they could not say ‘no’ to him.
Today, Prof. Srinivas, who has turned 80, remains energetic and continues to help patients out in his room at the Institute of Neurological Sciences. He also helps students and guides scores of researchers who think it their privilege to work with him, impressed with his immense depth of knowledge, his commitment to the cause of the poor, the resolute way in which he has achieved all that he has, and in the midst of adversity, his inimitable sense of humour. As the Institute readies to celebrate its golden jubilee in a couple of years, and 50 glorious years of service to the needy, it cannot but celebrate the man who made it all happen, Prof. Srinivas, who dreamt the same dream as Sanjivi.