Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Jesse Berry, MD, and Co-Chief Resident, Philip Storey, MD, were fortunate enough to spend a week at the Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India. Sankurathri Foundation was established by Dr. Chandrasekhar Sankurathri as a memorial to his wife, Manjari Sankurathri, son, Srikiran and daughter, Sarada who were killed in a terrorist bombing of Air India Flight 182 (Kanishka) on 23rd June 1985. The Foundation’s main mission is to empower the poor through better education, eye care and timely help to the needy. Drs. Berry and Storey assisted patients in the clinic, performed various OR procedures, conducted outreach, and enjoyed the local cuisine. Here is the final day of their journey:
Day 6 at Srikiran
Today is camp day! We traveled for 40 km outside of Kakinada to a small village called Walla Walla. Once a year Srikiran comes to this rural village, which is mostly surrounded by rice paddies, to screen for vision problems. We came upon the camp and there were men and women, all dressed in their flowing, colorful saris, standing in line for screening. Many had children or other family members with them because they were so clearly visually impaired. Patients had vision, pressure, slit lamp and indirect examinations. They also have blood pressure and blood glucose screening. There were over 300 patients screened and nearly 30% of patients failed the vision screening and had cataracts visible to the naked eye. They were counseled on cataract surgery and if they were willing would travel by bus to Srikiran tonight for surgery tomorrow. During the day an elected official came to the screening and one woman cried out her anguish about her blindness and how she had so much fear of surgery. He calmly counseled her that she needed surgery and would be well cared for at Srikiran.
Sundays in this community are a pharmacy day. There are many people with hepatitis and each Sunday they line up for a special herbal mixture which they take to keep the symptoms at bay. The crowd was more like a sea of bodies waiting for this medicine and in many the liver disease was so advanced you could see the jaundice in their eyes.
After this humbling and amazing experience we joined Dr. Chandra for a birthday celebration where we enjoyed a local shrimp delicacy! Another day down and a hospital full of patients waiting for cataract surgery tomorrow. Each and every day at Srikiran there is an effort to serve and heal the people of this community. And every single person – doctors, nurses, staff, visitors like us and of course the patients – who are touched by Srikiran and Dr. Chandra find themselves resolved wholeheartedly to commit in someway to the furthering of this work. I could not be more blessed to have spent a week at this fine institution and I hope to carry the love and joy and mission of Srikiran firmly in my heart as I journey home, and until I can return again.
Dr. Jesse Berry is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Associate Residency Program Director at LAC+USC Medical Center. She is residency and fellowship trained and a member of the Society of Heed Fellows.