Hoping to create a model healthcare system for the world
Vol 2 | Issue 35
My early years were in Aragonda, a small town in Andhra Pradesh. My father was an agriculturist and it was his wish that I become a business man. Eventually, as I evolved, I decided to be a doctor and joined medicine.
After doing premedical degree from MCC and graduation from Stanley Medical College in Chennai, then Madras, I did my fellowship in Boston at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital. Later I moved on to Missouri to work at the finest chest institute.
A visionary: The author (in picture) established Apollo Hospitals to bring quality, yet affordable healthcare to Indians
In the 60’s, I was like a typical NRI of that era. We were interested in buying fancy cars. My father was very fond of cars. In late 60’s when I sent him a picture of my deluxe car with my children, both my mom and dad enjoyed seeing it.
But it was his reaction to that picture that changed our plans for our future. He had asked me to think about what I could do for the people of my nation. It did not take long for my wife to decide. The children had no choice to protest that it was “not a wise decision to return to India,” as they were all below 12.
This set my challenge to be a medical man in India and to bring to our people even in the early 70’s the best of possible medical care, especially cardiac, in a small hospital in Madras.
Indian healthcare especially cardiac care was not advanced then and patients had to go abroad when they needed heart surgery. I used to refer my patients mostly to Dr. Denton Cooley, one of the famous cardiac surgeons in Texas and occasionally to Dr.Donald Ross in England.
Once a 38-year-old patient of mine who was fixed for surgery in the US had a cardiac arrest and we could not revive him. His wife was just about 31 and the couple had a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.
The family lost their beloved one because “they could not raise $50,000 to take him for surgery in the US.”
It made me realize that if this situation was allowed to continue, many more would lose their beloved family members as they may not be able to afford the expensive treatment abroad.
It was no surprise even then that Indians, whether a teacher, engineer, scientist or a doctor, were outstanding professionals outside the country. My vision was to bring the talent back to our people so that our fellow citizens would then no longer suffer for want of adequate care.
On September 18, 1983, late Giani Zail Singh, the then President of India inaugurated the first corporate hospital in India. Today, Apollo is a healthcare institution par excellence and has grown from 150 beds to 9000 beds. It is a front runner in healthcare services delivery.
I have continuously realized that my vision has no fixed heights because of the ever increasing Apollo’s spirit. Now, Apollo has taken a challenge to build a new vision, “Rocket 14”, to bring to the country hospitals which will give clinical and service excellence and growth in multiples by January 1, 2014.
After being part of this lovely family for over 27 years, I have no doubt that in our journey of Hope for Indian Healthcare, Apollo as a Super brand and a torch bearer will bring the vision of hope not just for India but give healthcare delivery models to the rest of the world. I am truly proud to be part of this journey.
The author is Executive Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group