In the Rotary Year 2006-07 with Dr M S Ravi as President, RCME conferred the Dr K V Thiruvengadam Award for Healthcare on Mr D K Srinivasan, Hony Secretary of Hindu Mission Hospital (HMH). HMH was started in 1982 with a singular vision of providing high quality healthcare to the poor and needy and has over the past three decades come to be associated with innovative facilities, top-notch specialties and focus on community service. Much has already been said about the service rendered by HMH.

Fast forward to April 2015! A chance meeting with the Dr Karthik Kailash, a renowned spine surgeon, renewed our club’s connect with HMH. President V G P Ravidas and team approved the donation of a cardio stress test system and a Semi Automated Microtome (used for tissue culture and diagnosis) worth Rs 8.60 lakhs to the hospital. Things moved at lightning pace from there and in a unique gesture, newly inducted President Ananth and IPP Jayanthi came together in June 2016 on a Global Grant project worth 40 lakhs to dedicate ventilators and mechanized beds for the ICU at HMH. Meanwhile, Mr D K Srinivasan, by now 73 years young, was awarded Padma Shri for his service to society.

Convinced about HMH’s successful self-sustaining model, President Ananth was keen on a second Global Grant for HMH. This was one part of a US$ 100,000 GG initiative attempted for the first time by RCME. HMH’s component was US$ 47,000 and the other GG, in the avenue of vocational services for Ramakrishna Mission Polytechnic College, was for US$ 56,000/-.

Once the green signal was given sometime in late Nov, the well-oiled GG machinery of RCME was set in motion. Rtn Radhika, by now a GG veteran, donned the mantle of GG Chair. Her responsibilities were two-fold – firstly, to pilot the 2 GGs successfully and secondly, to identify RCMEians willing and capable of assuming the GG responsibility going forward. This was in keeping with the club’s avowed policy of ensuring dissemination of knowledge about GGs and ensuring seamless continuity year after year. Rtn Shanta Kumar was identified for the HMH GG and Rtn Divya for the RKM GG.

Nothing is a bigger travesty of fairness then when hard earned donor funds are put to wasteful use. Several rounds of discussion are required with the chosen beneficiary to see what the real need is. More rounds are required with the vendors to negotiate prices. Competitive quotes are a must. One will be surprised at the learning during the process. It certainly pays to have team members with domain knowledge during this stage. For the HMH GG, Rtn Dr Aravindan and the purchase team of Kauvery Hospital were able to provide invaluable inputs. To quote an example, the anaesthesia work stations identified as the requirement were sourced from Wipro GE. However, the GE monitors were proving to be very costly. The Kauvery team replaced them with Philips monitors that had fewer, but sufficient features, and were significantly cheaper. This way, we were able to accommodate within our budget, three monitors and three vapourizers as well. Not always is high-end equipment required. A small non-essential specs reduction can result in a significant cost reduction and great value-add for the beneficiary. Blind acceptance of a beneficiary’s wish list is a sure way to spoil the GG party. 

The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion said Sarah MacLean. It pays to have a proactive and vibrant international club as your GG partner. International partners in a GG are not just passive funders. Indeed they are expected to provide valuable inputs on all facets of the project. We have been fortunate in our association with RC of San Antonio, Texas, USA, brought about by the unstinted efforts and regular visits of Rtn Ravi Venkatramani. This is the 3rd GG project with that club. Once RC San Antonio signified their assent to partner us on both projects, success was a foregone conclusion.

Like in any project, the funding plan must be in place in advance. You need to convince members for the club’s share, dialogue with the District TRF team for allocation from District Designated Fund (DDF), coordinate with the international partner for their share and identify any other source of donation to help the project on its way. A generous donation of US$ 15,000 from Rajan and Ragini Raghavan Family Foundation, USA certainly helped. This was apportioned equally between the two GGs. And with generous DDF allocations from our district as well as from the Texas, our funding pattern too fell in place. Julie Taymor was indeed true when she commented that people will justify whatever for a good cause.

The GG application was submitted in March 2017. That approval was received in double quick time speaks volumes of the meticulous approach of the Project Primary Contact, Rtn Shanta Kumar, and the GG Chair Rtn Radhika. The grand finale was the event on 31st May 2017 at HMH.

The workstations were dedicated to the Operation Theatres of HMH very appropriately by three RCMEians whose contributions have meant a lot to RCME this year – Rtn Rajmohan Reddy who was instrumental in RCME Trust securing Home Ministry approval for foreign contributions, Rtn Sridhar and his gracious Ann Lakshmi, who have been significant donors to The Rotary Foundation for several years and Rtn Radhika, the moving force behind both the GG projects of this year. There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction when our own Rotarians are called upon to perform the honours.

The carefully crafted GG recognition board was opened by District Rotary Foundation Chair, Rtn Suchitra Sagar, along with the club’s Asst Governor, Rtn Neelakantan. Then came the BIG moment – The naming of the hospital’s ICU as ‘Rotary Club of Madras East Intensive Care Unit’ by District Governor, Rtn Natarajan Nagoji. It was indeed gracious on the part of HMH to accede to this. It was heartening than nearly 35 RCMEians found the time on a weekday morning for this important occasion.

The operative part of the dedication event completed, the gathering braved the sweltering heat and assembled in the hospital lobby for the customary speeches. After President Rtn Ananth delivered the welcome speech, Shanta Kumar, in his usual elegant style, gave a detailed account of the GG project. Mr Srinivasan K Swamy, President of Hindu Mission Hospital, was effusive in his praise for the efforts of the club and the GG team. DG Rtn Nagoji too was generous in his praise for RCME’s all-round performance during the current Rotary year. He did not leave to speculation as to what RCME can expect at the customary year end awards ceremony. 

It is said that the results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation and that team work makes the dream work. This is certainly true of a club like RCME. Kudos to the members on yet another impactful project!

And do stay tuned in for the next blockbuster directed by Rtn Divya Siddharth.

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