Today, Faye and I had the honour and privilege of inaugurating the new children's chemotherapy unit at the Operation Eyesight Eye Cancer Clinic at LV Prasad Eye Institute. The cancer clinic, run by Dr Swathi Kaliki, who is pictured with LVPEI Founder and Chair, Dr Nag Rao (Daisy Duck between them). Adrian had the opportunity to work with Dr. Swathi while creating some promotional pieces for the eye cancer clinic. Aided by a generous grant from the Killam family of Vancouver, the eye cancer clinic is now 4.5 times its former size and is able to serve a much larger segment of the population, primarily children, who suffer from the disease. Early interventions result in a 90% survival rate and 80% chance of avoiding blindness in the affected eye(s).
We were then given a tour of the entire eye hospital, which was massively impressive. Being completely private, the hospital manages to offer free health care to those in need, funded primarily by patients who can afford to pay extra to support others. In return those patients get benefits such as private, air-conditioned rooms and an exquisite waiting lounge. Free inpatients bunk up 4 or 8 to a room. However the actual medical care provided to free and paid patients is identical. It is a wonderful health-care model which, being completely private, manages to avoid the red tape involved in dealing with governments here.
One of the impressive elements of the hospital was the centre of innovation in which a team of engineers - soon to be accompanied by an industrial designer, devise methods to produce more effective eye health sector solutions and help to reach patients in the remotest of villages who cannot readily access the modern day diagnostic equipment found in secindary and tertiary eye care centres. As with many things here, this team is entirely funded by a high-tech sector company now operating worldwide but wishing to "give back" in its place of origin.
We were then treated to a sumptuous biryani lunch with 6 members of Operation Eyesight's India staff, in which Adrian was roundly praised as a valuable team member who will be sorely missed. He was provided with a certificate and, in turn, passed around bottles of maple syrup and British Columbia ice wine to the team.
Finally we headed for the airport for the short (in distance) but long (in time) voyage to Colombo to begin our Sri Lankan adventure. Since our flight time to Chennai had been advanced, we had an opportunity to make an earlier connection and shorten. 9 hour wait to only1.5 hours.
But alas, I spent half hour at the counter being provided with conflicting inf, followed by perhaps one hour on various phone lines in which i was repeatedly either unable to get through or, twice, when seemingly on the path to success, was abruptly cut off before finally giving up.
Nor could we spend the wait time in the business lounge despite having lounge passes, since it is located past immigration which we may not pass through until the check-in counter opens in another 4 hours or so. First world problems, I know...