Medical social workers appointed and stationed at various villages use a motorcycle handed to them by the base hospital to continuously survey various village sites. Parameters of the survey include assessment of ophthalmic service availability and backward economic status. Once villages to be serviced are shortlisted, they identify, screen, counsel patients with visual problems and build partners. As city dwellers and new entrants to the village, the medical social workers are not in a position to convince inhabitants about the services. Hence, the designated medical social worker will first “influence the influencer”, a local authority who could be the in-house elected leader – "a sarpanch", a government official, a well respected teacher, a social minded farmer or even a head of another NGO. These local authorities are then valuable "partners" of the Sight for the Sightless Programme for being local residents; they help to spread the word and create awareness among the poor &
ignorant villagers and help our medical social workers to organize camps in these remote villages. With their consent and allocation of space for the eye check up camp, a date is fixed and plans for publicity begin.
Efforts for publicity are done through the traditional "doondhi" method. These are announcements made aloud, calling for attention by the beating of drums done from one village to another. Additionally, announcements are made through a loudspeaker fixed on a mobile van moving through the cluster of villages surrounding the shortlisted village site. On the scheduled date of the eye check up camp, the team of paramedics set out from the Institute to the village site to carry out a free eye examination of all the individuals gathered there. A patient selected, needing surgery is then assessed for hyper tension and diabetes. Cleared of these investigations, he is then queued up, counselled and admitted to the hospital.
This starts with the arrival of the villagers at the base hospital. On arrival, admission of the patients is done, a file is prepared for each patient and a Medical Record Number is assigned. The patients are explained in detail about the planned examination, investigations and surgery. The patients are also allotted a pre-operative room. A detailed eye examination is carried out which consists of a check up by the optometrist and by the Ophthalmologist. The optometrist will assess visual acuity, take Keratometry readings, measure Intra Ocular Pressures and carry out the Sac Syringing. The Ophthalmologist performs the slit lamp examination and an A scan and if the case demands, an additional B scan.
All these examinations and investigations at the hospital confirm the need for surgery as also the type of surgery.DAY 2 – DAY OF SURGERY
The patients wake up early morning and are provided with tooth powder to brush their teeth. They then take a bath and are made to wear the operation theatre uniform. After breakfast is served, an examination by a senior physician confirms their medical fitness to undergo an eye surgery. The patients are then sent to the operation theatres in batches. After surgery the patients are allotted a post op room. Lunch is served after which they are allowed to rest. In the evening after tea, LCD screens in the rooms are switched on which continuously play an audio visual - dispensing the post op instructions in the regional language. Live instructions are reiterated to the patients, repeating each instruction twice.
Dinner is then served and the patients are allowed to sleep after they are given the post op medication.DAY 3 – DAY OF DISCHARGE
On Day 3, the patients are counselled again about the post operative care and the “do’s and don’ts”. The eye patch is removed and post op vision is checked. The patient is then also examined by the operating surgeon. Before discharge, they are provided with a discharge card, post op instructions leaflet, medicines and eye drops (standard and non-standard) and a pair of dark glasses. They are also given a pack of biscuits for the road and are then dropped back to their respective villages.
This three day cycle continues everyday of the year by the Institute’s buses.