Resolving Doubts A day at the Super Speciality Hospital, Puttaparthi
Swami has repeatedly asked us not to indulge in or listen to rumours, and yet it is sometimes difficult to avoid doing so. The secret obviously is to take no notice of the content however ‘believable’ the rumour may seem, until proved correct. Normally I adhere to this principle as much as is humanly possible, but I actually weakened momentarily when someone happened to mention that they had heard from a ‘most reliable source’ that the medical treatment in the Super Speciality Hospital was, in fact, not up to scratch.
I later discovered that this information came from a magazine
noted for its negative stance. However at the time I was susceptible enough to accept that this was a possibility, due to my own incredulous state. I had visited Prasanthi Nilayam many times since 1986, and had been over to the Super Speciality Hospital in 1991. Overawed at its beautiful atmosphere then; I wondered whether the medical treatment would after nine long years, still match the pristine grandeur of the Hospital.
In July this year, my wife and I were in Prasanthi Nilayam for one month and the thoughts of the Hospital were nagging at me from time to time. A few days before we were due to leave I felt a sudden desire to find out the facts for myself and contacted Dr. Safaya, the director of the S.S. Hospital and made an appointment to see him: this turned out to be the day before we were leaving.
Dr. Safaya asked me what it was I wanted exactly. I explained that there was talk in the western media that the conditions in the S.S. Hospital were substandard; and I should like to see for myself if it was true.
Dr. Safaya called in his Head of Security, a Dr. Barkuni, who has a practice in Delhi and like many in the Sai Organisation gives his time freely for several weeks every year, and directed him to take me wherever I wished to go in the Hospital and to answer any questions I may ask. And so commenced what I can only describe as a V.I.P. tour which could only have been bettered by a visit from Swami Himself. I spent the whole day at the hospital going into general wards, intensive care wards, the kitchen and maintenance areas.
I was capped and gowned and permitted by the operating surgeons to enter operating theatres where I witnessed two open-heart operations (without heart-lung machines) at close range. I was even able to converse with the surgeons who explained the symptoms and the techniques. I also watched a mitral valve replacement operation done with breathtaking precision. I saw a cataract operation whilst almost breathing down the shoulder of the operating surgeon, who, even to my untrained eye, was obviously highly skilled despite his apparent youth. Incidentally, there are an average of 12 cataract operations a day carried out in this theatre plus an average of eight laser treatments in the Department of Ophthalmology itself.
In the Department of Cardiology an average of over a thousand heart surgeries are carried out each year. This includes bypass, valve replacement and as well as pacemaker implantations. Over 1900 patients are admitted into this department each year.
Like all major hospitals through out the world, the S.S. Hospital caters for every medical need. It incredibly has the lowest mortality and infection rate of any hospital in the world; in fact, an area such as Puttaparthi where dust and germs seem to find such an easy footing, infection in the Hospital is almost unheard of. The Hospital gleams with cleanliness and there is a wonderful air of calmness and efficiency, which is quite inspiring. The intensive care wards (like the operating theatres) are all air-conditioned, and have the latest electronic equipment installed from bedsides to central control. The wards are well staffed by competent nurses and there is a doctor on call at all times.
I was introduced to the Heads of all Departments, including : Dr. Sunil in charge of the Anesthesia Section; Dr. Sara Pawan, an anesthetist, who spends his time between the General Hospital and the S. S. Hospital;Dr. K. Prasad of the Catheter Laboratory section and Dr. K. Bhat who although officially retired, still gives all of his time giving lectures and advice whenever needed, and his wife, the senior microbiologist at S. S. H.
They were all happy and enthusiastic about their work and their dedication was obvious when speaking to them.
It was all the more refreshing to me as I had gone to the Hospital with mixed emotions, and, to be honest, was somewhat apprehensive that there might be some truth in what I had heard. Not so. I was, if anything, even more impressed than I had been nine years before.
I moved on to the Department of Engineering and Maintenance and was introduced to its Head Mr. K. Viswanathan, who is an electronics engineer and is responsible for maintaining all the electronic equipment thoughout the Hospital. He explained some of the ancillary equipment needed for the smooth running of the Hospital including enormous generators-such as the latest Swiss 180KVA model, so efficient that should the mains power suddenly drop out at any moment, it will immediately ensure an uninterrupted continuation of power, especially vital when operations are in progress. In addition there are 2´ 260KV and 1 ´ 100KV and
1 ´ 500KV generators for different areas in the Hospital in case of power failures.
Although the General Hospital at Puttaparthi screens all patients before they are sent on to the S.S.H., a typical day sees an average of 150 of the more serious cases being treated at the S.S.H. Some of them come from as far as Nepal, such has the fame of this hospital spread.
In addition there is a demineralisation plant, which supplies absolutely pure water to the operating theatres. An incinerator which takes solid waste to convert it into gaseous products and pass into another chamber where the temperature is over 10000 C rendering it safe to be passed into the atmosphere. There is a needle separator and disposal unit: in fact every piece of equipment needed to ensure that this ‘quite isolated’ Hospital has every thing needed to be totally self-sufficient. There appeared to be no shortage of any medical equipment in the theatres or wards.
The prevailing ambience whenever I went in the hospital was one of tranquility and love. It is no wonder that patients heal so quickly in this vibration. Swami has often said that more love at the bedside results in faster recovery. It is certainly true in this Hospital where love is shown through efficient care and encouraging words, everywhere.
In conclusion, I can only say how grateful I am to have been given this wonderful opportunity to experience this most remarkable Hospital and at the same time to dispel any doubt I might have had.