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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 250-251

Ah, those were the days

Former Director and Superintendent, RIOGOH, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission28-Oct-2019
Date of Acceptance28-Oct-2019
Date of Web Publication11-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. K Vasantha
Tripti Apartment, Marshall's Enclave, Egmore, Chennai - 600 008, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjosr.tjosr_97_19

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How to cite this article:
Vasantha K. Ah, those were the days. TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res 2019;57:250-1

How to cite this URL:
Vasantha K. Ah, those were the days. TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 14];57:250-1. Available from: http://www.tnoajosr.com/text.asp?2019/57/3/250/270712

Whenever I cross Government Ophthalmic Hospital (GOH), I used to think about my student days there. Those were the best days of my life.

My father used to say that no two doctors will be friendly as they used to be at loggerheads on every diagnosis and treatment and also due to professional rivalry. I refuse to accept that mainly because of my more than three decades' stint in GOH. Yes, GOH for we still call our hospital GOH only, just like Anna Salai is Mount Road. Working there never felt like a chore.

During the first few years, when I was in Dr. E. T. Selvam's unit, right in the morning after finishing the preliminary rounds, we would sit in the Lawley ward waiting for the unit chief with the trio Dr. Suryaprakash, Dr. Salai Sukumar, and Dr. Surendran, who would continuously crack jokes. It would be more like waiting for a party. I am sure you wouldn't have guessed it. It is Dr. T. S. Surendran of Sankara Nethralaya. Of course once the chief arrives, everyone will act very seriously and walk behind him in pin-drop silence. I hope my assistants and students were doing the same when I was the chief. We used to climb up and down every floor throughout the old building and that was enough for the morning exercise. The new building had only outpatient (OP) services at that time. All the patients who had to have extra investigations (slit-lamp and fundus examination, nothing else) both from the wards and the OP will be taken to the darkroom. In the darkroom, when the assistant professor sees some interesting finding, we all would see the same looking through one lens of the slit lamp. Then, Dr. Ananda Kannan would ask questions and teach us. After the rounds, the chief would give coffee to all of us, and we would go on with the rest of the work.

Surgical theater days would be like a “mela.” Dr. E. T. S used to operate first. He would perform 25–30 surgeries on the first theater days. Two postgraduates (PGs) would assist him; the senior PG will of course be the first, and he would hand over the instruments to him. The second assistant has to receive the instruments in exactly the same way every single time. If we make some mistake, he would glare at us from above the binocular loop. Then, this would be the topic of discussion and jokes the next day. But, it was a privilege to watch the surgery of the great Dr. E. T. S. In between, we would take our lunch which consisted of two pooris from the Ashoka Hotel. As the junior-most PG, I would get the last case at four in the evening. No exaggerations there, the staff who has to hold the torch would keep a longest face possible, and we all became fast surgeons only because of this. We were afraid that she might simply switch off the light and go away.

When we the students operate, the theater assistant would poke his nose and say “Do Doctor Smith intra” in vernacular language. He was good, and he would guess correctly which cataract was hyper mature enough to come out easily with Smith. So, we had to comply; otherwise, he won't press the cryoprobe properly next time you want to do intracapsular extraction. But, being in the superintendent's unit had some advantages like the staffs were a little less rigid with us though the work was more. In addition to that, we were able to see and sometimes perform all types of surgeries. In those days, there were no separate specialties in our hospital. Hence, from squint to retinal detachment, all surgeries including oculoplasty were performed by Dr. E. T. S and the assistant professors Dr. Ananda Kannan, Dr. Pius Fernando, Dr. Velayutham, and Dr. Rajaram.

As for the OP department, we used to see around 800 patients in the first unit on Monday. The junior PG had to stand behind Dr. Ananda Kannan and watch how he diagnoses the cases and writes the drug tokens. When he finally says you can sit and see cases on your own, it means you have arrived. Dr. E. T. S was very strict about classes. He himself would come and sit in the afternoon class; hence, we had very good training. We used to see a lot of rare cases which we used to present in clinical meetings. Although we attended a lot of conferences and used to conduct preconference courses, we were not that enthusiastic about publishing papers. We were a bit complacent as the government was not particular about publications.

Once Dr. E. T. S retired from service, there was a slight lull in class schedules. When Prof. Dr. V. Loganathan took over as the director, for by then, GOH had been declared as the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (RIO), and Dr. Viswanathan was made the registrar. He worked hard and brought out a model teaching program which is still being followed with very little changes. Our RIO GOH PGs win many quiz programs because of the excellent teaching in our hospital.

Our teachers left us a great institution. I think their followers like us had made a reasonably good job of maintaining it. Hope our future generation keeps it up and holds the flag of GOH high in spite of the high competition from the private institutions. This is a tall order. But, I still I think it will be done as we have many promising teachers in the present generation.

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There are no conflicts of interest.


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