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 second day of their journey:
Day 2 at Srikiran
Today is camp day at Srikiran! About 15 days of the month the staff from Srikiran go out to the very, very rural around up to 100 km from the Srikiran eye hospital to do vision and eye health screenings. Anyone with cataracts or other surgical eye conditions are brought by bus, with their family if they would like, to the hospital for surgery. The patients all gather together in a wing for marking, exams, and dilation. Then the surgeons come to see the patients that they will operate on. Once everything is lined up there is an eager excitement that is palpable. The first three patients are taken to the pre-operative area where a ‘running nurse’ will do the peribulbar blocks. Three patients are brought to the OR for two surgeons. Another nurse preps and drapes two of the patients while the third waits on a surgical table. Once the surgeons start to operate the 3rd is prepped and draped. As all of this happens three more are being blocked in the preoperative area. Once the surgery is done (approximately four minutes! They’re fast!) a nurse patches the patient and the surgeon simply moves the scope over to the next patient, changes gloves and starts! The patient is taken to a bench (in the OR) to wait and when the next new patient is brought in by a ‘running nurse’ – there are three to five patients in the room at any given time — the operated patient is then taken out. This back and forth goes on all morning long and today they did 21 cataracts in two hours. It was amazing!
Philip and I saw our post ops today as well and they both looked great – we also saw two pre-ops and each did another SICS (small incision extracap surgery). It is a new skill set for sure but an amazing one for these dense lenses. It was really humbling for both of us that the camp patients wanted the ‘white American’ doctors to operate on them and really we are learning this surgery from our Indian colleagues. These patients were so proud and excited that the American doctors had come to visit their hospital – anytime we walked by the ward they would jump from bed and bow and share the Namaste sign with us. We were in awe of how special and loving the people in this community are.
After the cases we finished clinic and consulted on some difficult ocular oncology cases including a likely orbital lymphoma in a patient with persistent proptosis for a year or more and two months of vision loss. We also saw a local case of retinitis pigmentosa with cosanguinous parents, a child with a choroidal rupture and hyphema from trauma, and waited for a patient with ophthalmia nodosa – inflammation from caterpillar hairs (yes, you heard me right) – but she did not come. We hope she comes tomorrow because it can be very traumatic if the hairs are not removed.
We also wanted to go to the ATM in preparation for a little weekend shopping but the ATMs are not working in India right now! Due to the black market money trade they banned all 1000 and 500 rupee bills – which is 86% of the currency in India – all of which now needs to be turned in. The new bills are the wrong size for the ATM machines so all of these will need to be changed out. So fingers crossed they take credit cards or no souvenirs for everyone back home!
Read about the third day of their adventure here
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.