Aravind Eye Care System, Seva's partner for 40 years, hosted the latest GSI Mentee Workshop in June at the Sankara Eye Hospital in Odisha, India. Representatives from 10 mentee hospitals from India and Bangladesh attended the Seva-funded meeting, along with mentors from Guatemala, Peru and Tanzania. Dr. Chundak Tenzing, Medical Director of Seva's Innovation and Sight Program, was also there.
This workshop focused on the importance of capturing data to illuminate opportunities for improvement. Dr. Tenzing explained that, for example, many eye hospitals have trouble getting patients to go through with getting cataract surgery, because of fear or financial worries. Hospitals can often increase surgery acceptance rates simply by hiring a counselor to talk with these patients and their families.
Representatives from Vivekananda Eye Hospital in Karnataka, in southwest India, reported an impressive increase in productivity thanks to mentorship support through GSI. This hospital went from performing 435 cataract surgeries annually to 841 cataract surgeries this past year, a 93% increase. The representatives shared the changes they've made, passing on tips to their fellow mentees.
Dr. Tenzing emphasized that eye care providers should ask themselves if they are serving patients with honesty and compassion and earning their trust. "I know that is idealistic thinking," Dr. Tenzing said, "but without it, the quality won't improve."
Mr. Doraiswamy Nagarajan, a member of Seva's Board of Directors and a respected advisor to eye hospitals in the Odisha area, encouraged the meeting participants "not to sit with excuses, but to find creative solutions." Sharing challenges with fellow mentees presents an effective avenue for finding real solutions and thinking of creative ways to implement them. Echoing the teachings of Seva co-founder and spiritual leader Ram Dass, Dr. Tenzing encouraged the mentees to "be the change you want to see in others. If you put your heart into it, you can do it." Many GSI mentee institutions are doing just that, and they are restoring sight to millions of people as a result.
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