A mission accomplished Bathua Nursing Home, Muzaffarpur

Bathua is not just a nursing home. It is named after a village that was home to a great nationalist and freedom fighter. We are referring to late Dr. Ramashish Thakur, the grandfather of Dr. Hari Narayan Bharadwaj. The blessings of Dr. Ramashish Thakur still echo in the corridors of the nursing home set up by the latter. He has distinct memories of his grandfather whom he idolizes and draws his inspiration from. quot;His entire life is a message to me,quot; he says with a tinge of emotion. quot;Baba would make sure that he spoke in a manner and a language that was understood by both my sister and me.

" ‘The ability to serve honestly has been taught to me by my parents.’ "

Unlike elders of those times he connected beautifully with his grandchildren. His demeanour and the ability to explain things clearly has ingrained in me the skills which I use today to interact with my students,quot; reveals Dr. Hari smilingly, also a Professor of Surgery with the Sri Krishna Medical College in Muzaffarpur. His good communication skills are very evident in our conversation, an observation, Dr. Vijaya, his wife, too seconds. The medical influence in the Bharadwaj family continued with the torch being handed to his father, Dr. Satya Narayan.

" ‘I knew I could not do away with quacks, so training them was the next best option.’ "

Both, his grandfather and father did their LMC (Licensed Medical Practitioner) from Calcutta Medical College. Bengal was undivided then and Bihar was part of it and Calcutta was not considered a distant land. Dr. Hari’s birthplace is also Bathua, though he stayed there initially and would later continue to visit now and then.

The family moved to Munger where his father was posted at the Department of Health. We ask him whether the choice of profession was thrust upon him.

quot;Though I was good in mathematics and even received a call letter from the Patna Engineering College, I was asked to join the medical line. I accepted the decision like a disciplined soldier and set out for Darbhanga to pursue MBBS.quot; The Bengal famine, the economic recession and lack of engineering jobs contributed to this decision by his family.

quot;In the end it turned out to be a sound one,quot; he states with conviction. Dr. Hari went on to do his MS and his MCH in plastic surgery from Patna. District Pargana was the first posting for the young doctor, who married Vijaya, the sister of his batch mate Dr. Ashok, in 1977. His influence led to the young bride pursuing medicine. Thus began the combined journey of the doctor couple in doing what they liked most, that is serving others. Dr. Hari decided to be based in Muzaffarpur because of proximity to the Bathua village. quot;I wanted to see the name of my village spread beyond the periphery of Bathua,quot; shares Dr. Hari. The clinic started in 1995 but patients were hard to get and he refused to fall prey to middlemen. quot;I would rather shut down operations than resort to unfair means,quot; he exhorts, the principled stand and honest means of his elders clearly at play here. He would have got a city posting but he insisted on a rural one and got the block of Basra.

As part of his posting there, Dr. Hari started a unique system of providing specialized training to quacks in the region. quot;I knew I could not do away with them, so training them was the next best option,quot; he shares. He was later transferred to Muzaffarpur as the registrar of Sri Krishna Medical College and in a roles reversal, Dr. Vijaya was posted at the same block in Basra. Dr. Vijaya Bharadwaj is a busy gynaecologist. We only get to talk to her, when Dr. Anuradha, the daughterin- law, takes over in her place for some time at the hospital.

Vijaya too had a strong influence in the form of her mother, Srimati Ram Sukumari Devi, a Congress Party activist. quot;The ability to serve honestly has been taught to me by my parents,quot; says Dr. Vijaya, the glow on her face amazingly still there even after a ten-hour marathon slog with patients. Both, she and Dr. Hari have their own reasons for choosing the name Bathua but the essence remains the same. While Dr. Vijaya considers it to be a tribute to the legacy of her in-laws, Dr. Hari wished to enhance the name of his native place Bathua.

quot;Not a single penny was asked for or taken as dowry by my in-laws and I found much respect and love in my new home. This is but a small tribute to my parents-in-law,quot; says Dr. Vijaya. The couple’s good work had the desired effect and patients started coming to the nursing home. Those who had received paramedical and nursing training from them, came with job requests and it got a new address in 2003, though the couple at that time faced a resource crunch. quot;Even today the process of building new rooms and upgrading facilities and equipment remains a challenge,quot; confides Dr. Hari. When resources were scarce, they rented tents to accommodate patients, that doubled up as operation theatre when required.

" ‘The hospital that my parents dream to start will need my inputs and support,’ says Dr. Piyush. "

Dr. Hari calls it the ABC system of his profession. Availability, Behaviour and Competence. quot;I ensure that all of us follow these rules,quot; he asserts. A multi-speciality institute is what the visionaries aspire for now, with a distinct identity, not simply known as the Hari-Vijaya run hospital, but one catering to different areas of medical treatment, quality cardiology services being one of them. While ensuring the sound health of his patients, Dr. Hari ensures spending time in his personal gym. quot;I remember when I approached Baba to seek his blessings after scoring high in my Matriculation exam, he made me promise to be selfish towards my own health,quot; recalls Piyush, his son. Time for creative pursuits is a luxury, but the practitioner occasionally finds time to pen his thoughts, which usually take the form of satire.

A post graduate in finance and accounts from Edinburgh University, Piyush says, quot;The hospital that my parents dream to start will need my inputs and support.quot; At this Dr. Vijaya nods vigorously. On the other hand, playing a participative role at the hospital, Anuradha gushes, quot;My career and my married life have both found complete fulfilment in this family.quot; Today commanding respect in areas of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and General Surgery, Bathua Nursing Home is ready to move on to the next level, that of specialization and research. With the entire family devoted to this one cause, the legacy of Bathua will surely live and prosper with every patient cured and each cry turned into a smile.