Wellness on wheels

By Gayathri Venkatesan| Express News Service | Published: 13th August 2023 07:34 AM
Mobile clinic

MADURAI: Doctor C Swaminathan is no stranger to heart palpitations. When the 33-year-old was working at private hospitals, he realised that healthcare is available to only a few. In search of a medical miracle, he took it upon himself to find a cure for the issue by launching a mobile clinic in 2019.

“The basic idea of a mobile clinic is to make medical services accessible to everyone. We treat elderly people, people with disabilities and diabetic patients at their doorsteps. Our team also provides palliative care,” he said.

Born in Tiruchy, Swaminathan did his schooling abroad. Returning to India, he completed his college in Salem district. After marriage, he settled down in Madurai with his wife and son in 2016. Swaminathan’s day starts as early as 3 am. Clad in a t-shirt and sweatpants, the doctor’s mobile vehicle is a regular sight on the streets of Madurai, during the break of dawn.

A 73-year-old woman’s eyes light up when she sees the doctor on wheels. She receives him with the warmth of a mother, who has seen her son return home to take care of her. Swaminathan sits and listens to her complaining about diabetes and cardiac problems with utmost attention, almost as if that was all the treatment the woman ever needed. Later in the day, a pharmacist in the team delivers the medicines required for her treatment.

The team’s treatment starts well before prescribing medicines. Firstly, if it’s a new patient, they take around 20 to 25 minutes to familiarise themselves with the patient. Once the patient is comfortable, the next visit would be a bit shorter.

Swaminathan said, “While checking regular patients, we spend around 10 to 15 minutes. The team travels 100 km and attends 15 house calls a day. After seeing our work, one of our patient’s relatives contributed to the four-wheeler we are using now. Earlier, I used my own car for carrying out assistance. For first aid, we use a two-wheeler.”

The doctor also runs a clinic. He makes time for it between 9 to 11 am and 6 to 8 pm after all the early morning toil. He has around ten staff in his team, including physiotherapists, staff nurses and clinical staff.
“We start our routine as early as possible just to avoid peak-hour traffic. It took us 1.5 years to sort out the process,” said Swaminathan.

“When we are able to see progress in the patients, it is a joy like none other. We have treated patients in nearby districts like Virudhunagar, Sivaganga and Dindigul as well,” he added. The patients have nothing but praise to shower on the team’s efforts. Mallikarjun, a resident of SS Colony, has been visiting Swaminathan since 2020 when the pandemic was at its peak. “I am 87 years old. Instead of waiting in long queues at the hospital, the doctor visiting my home is a big relief,” he added.

Another resident S Padmalakshmi said the doctor had become her extended family. “When I was affected by the Covid virus, the doctor was selfless and carried a positive attitude. His smile did wonders for my health,” she recollected.

The fee ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 800, depending on the distance that the team has to travel, said the doctor. “During the pandemic, we conducted two vaccination camps in Madurai. Every two months, our team hosts health camps for the public. So far, we have conducted 52 such camps. We also help bedridden patients rent medical equipment,” said Swaminathan.

K Thamaraiselvi, who had worked in a private hospital for a few years before joining Swaminathan’s team, said, “He is the epitome of kindness. We are never exhausted as we are a family. The doctor makes sure that each of our lives is celebrated. It is good to work with a person who has a vision.”

With ambitions to expand the team’s service to southern districts, Swaminathan also aims to build care homes for the elderly. “It feels like I was born to make a difference. I can sleep peacefully with full satisfaction,” Swaminathan said, with a beaming smile.

(Edited by Ajay Unnikrishnan)

Tags : C Swaminathan heart palpitations Mobile clinic

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