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Jagriti Yatra – A day at Arvind Eye Care System (Madurai)

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Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must also be the joy of doing something beautiful

– Dr. G. Venkatswami (Founder of Arvind Eye Care system)

The morning at Jagriti Yatra Day 4 started with the news that Jagriti train changed its route and instead of heading to Madurai, it ended up in Chennai. So now it was supposed to go back to Madurai.  The day passed in the train waiting for it to reach Madurai and meet Dr. S Arvind and Dr. Ravi Chandran, Chairman Arvind Eye care systems. Finally we were on the site and after we settled down in the hall of Arvind Eye Care Systems (Madurai) hospital, first thing we were told by our mentor was, “today when we will leave this hall after the presentation, we will leave with some amount  of faith, spirituality, humanity, values  and heart full of inspiration”.  There I got a beautiful hint and the presentation started with a documentary. Here is what I could retain and gain….

Almost 38 years back, Arvind Eye Care systems started with 11 beds in a room and a team of 10-12 people. In a country (India) with 12 million blind people, 80% of blindness is needless. Poor is needlessly blind because they don’t have money for the treatment or because the hospitals or clinics are not accessible for various reasons. Dr. G. Venkatswami felt such needless blindness was not required thus there was a need to eliminate it.

Jagriti Yatra – A day at Arvind Eye Care System (Madurai)

Aspirations are bigger than Resources

At Arvind Eye Care systems, Money earned from patients who can afford the treatment is spent on the treatment of poor.  70% of the patients treated till date at Arvind Eye Care Systems have been treated for free.  Huge volume of blind people in India is seen as opportunity to reap the benefits of economies of scale. With such a scale technology becomes more cost efficient. Nurses, helpers and sisters working at the hospital contribute 60% of the workforce. They are the one closest to the patients. Ones who meet patients everyday and calm them down for their worries. These women are 12th passed girls from the high school, who undergo special 3 years training at the hospital.  Dr. G always looked up to the standardisation of McDonalds fast food quality.  He was truly fascinated by his idea that “Like McDonalds could serve same quality food across geographies by applying standardisation to its processes and workflows, similar approach can let an eye care hospital provide quality services everywhere.  800-1000 patients are treated everyday at Arvind Eye Care Systems to keep the business sustainable and profitable.

Over the time Arvind eyecare has expended its arms to Eye Consulting business, Eye – Lenses manufacturing and eye care franchisee business.  It has expanded its operations in countries like Africa, Nigeria, US and other countries and collaborated with other 300 eye care hospitals who shares similar values. Arvind Eye Care system has enough infrastructure and money to scale up with  more Arvind Eye Care setups. Still they don’t feel a rush of it and cares about its values the most. Every New Arvind Eye Care Setup needs to breathe 3 building blocks laid down by Dr. G.

  • Value System
  • Delivery System
  • Innovation

To carry the value system forward in the absence of Dr. G is only by moving 50% of employees from existing set up to new set up and let them train new people.

I believe 1.5 hours of the presentation and conversations with board member put all 450 yatris into some thinking. Thinking to serve a purpose bigger than them self.   Thinking which got even deeper with the last slide of the presentation quoting words by the idol of Dr. G. Venkatswami.

Contributed By: Rakshit Monga

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