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HE REDEFINES PEDIATRIC HEALTH CARE

Children, often, perceive the doctor’s chamber as the place where painful and nasty things happen to them and the man in apron is the one who perpetrates them. It is the doctor’s prerogative to push his boundaries to break through this wall of resistance, braving the deafening screams and kicking limbs to apply that healing touch. But here is a specialist who befriends these tiny ‘rebels’ to that extent that they actually look forward to meeting him. Dr.K.Radhakrishna Managing Director & Chief Consultant Pediatrician, OMNI RK Super Speciality Hospital for Children & Women, forges a positive impact in the lives of innumerable children and parents. It is not just his ability to heal diseases but his innovative methods and standards he has set in the healthcare that make him immensely popular. He chose pediatrics purely out of love for children and passion for service. No wonder he walked away with the single coveted seat in the discipline at that time, competing with 3000 aspirants.
Dr. Radhakrishna tells us all about his journey.

EXCERPTS
Childhood
We, four siblings had a fantastic childhood, in Pune, Tirupati and Vizag. I recall that the best period was spent in Pune where my father Dr.K.B.V.Somasundaram taught in the Dept. of Physiology, Army Medical College. My mother Mrs.Narimani, was generosity personified. My father used to keep us on a tight leash & taught us to take care of ourselves and our money. Right from the 2nd standard, we would take public transport to the school and were given 50 paisa per day for bus fare. I always topped the class. So, he never had any complaints except about my handwriting which is bad even now.

Choice
I had only two options- medicine or engineering. It is purely due to my love for children, I opted for pediatrics. Even now, I take every kid into my arms. I was the ninth pediatrician who started practice in the city. Bagging a gold medal in MD, I joined AMC as an Asst. Professor of Pediatrics in 1985. Unable to cope with the killing schedule, I left it and started RK Children’s Hospital and added Mother Child care. I collaborated with Omni in 2013.

Then and now
In 80s, medical infrastructure was woefully lacking and there was only one facility, KGH. Child mortality was high. Things started looking up with the advent of private nursing homes in 90s. But I must admit that there was an unflinching trust between the doctors and the patients. There was no rat race or financial stress. Now infant mortality rate is low. Investigation services have improved. Of course, the cost of treatment is now prohibitive. When it comes to doctor-patient ties, the trust factor is waning. People come with net-imparted half knowledge and question the abilities of the doctor.

Omni RK
The founders of Omni, based in Hyderabad, wanted to foray into the city and I wanted to work with them without taking the burden of administration. It was a mutually beneficial deal. Of course, I did invest to keep that feeling of ownership and suffixed it with my name RK. We are starting a new wing soon with a team of 15 pediatricians specialized in different fields.



Group practice
I introduced group practice, eradicating the concept of one man show. We pool our diverse skills and are assured of financial security. Of course, the leader of the group has to adopt the ‘Give and Forgive’ policy as he has to share finances and power to handle cases. He has to forgive people when they trespass.

Small acts & big joy
A good pediatrician has to be a stage performer and it is always show time for him.
a) When I was a child I recall Bata company came up with a gift scheme of giving children a timetable leaf.
I went to the shop at least 20 times to claim it. The joy of having that gift stays etched in my mind even today. This inspired me to introduce this practice. Every child that comes to my chamber is offered a toy or goodie.
b) I also send books, fruits, chocolates and sweets as per the child’s choice.
c) I find out who the child’s favourite actor or teacher is. By placing an inhouse call, I make my staff talk to the child, impersonating its hero.
d) My junior teammates too are treated to pizzas whenever they clear a doubt.
Continued Medical Education (CME) A doctor is always a student and needs to constantly update his knowledge. I taught 2,000 students in my 15 years service at AMC. I used to go beyond the textbooks to share practical experiences.
Even now I deliver at least 40 lectures in a year.

Modern motherhood
Mothers are obsessed with two issues – children’s food and education, and show no concern for the child’s creativity. They nurse a false assumption that medicines can do everything - right from enhancing the child’s appetite to its height. This has to change.

Problems & solutions
Unfortunately, we are 50 years behind in health care and research compared to the developed nations. We lag behind in hygiene, infrastructure and nursing. We can cut down 1/3rd of the deaths just by providing good hygienic conditions. The ever-increasing population is our bane. We can find solutions if only our politicians and bureaucrats are serious and committed. People too should put in their bit.

Unforgettable incident
A baby from a poor family was in ICU for nearly 15 days and in the hospital for a month. When I asked the parents if they were relieved to go home at last, they replied that they sold their house to meet the expenses. That day my head bowed on two counts- firstly, with respect for the sacrificing parents & secondly, for the immense trust they reposed in me.

Challenging case
Five-year old Deepthi, victim of Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) came to us with no hopes of returning. But she survived and went home happily. The credit goes to my team.

Special moment
The best day was when my son landed a job with McKinsey & Company. He was the 3rd to be selected out of ten candidates from IIM-A, IIM-B and IIM-C.

Regrets
Yes three regrets- I wish I practised in a bigger city which would have given me a better exposure. I could not give enough time to my children during their formative years. Now, I try to make amends by travelling with them to spend some quality time together. Thirdly, I neglected social networking. Engrossed in my own world, I did not pick up right contacts.
I would arrive at social functions so late that I would end up eating with the staff that stayed back to clean up the venue. Now I have started working on it.

Alternative medicines & home remedies
These streams were efficacious when they were practised by experts. But they were not passed down to succeeding generations. I don’t approve of home remedies like diet restrictions for the new mother and giving massages and fomentation to the child. For eg, people think that they can widen the child’s eyes and make them attractive by applying kohl. I say it only attracts an eye infection.

IVF
IVF is a blessing for the childless. We will start our own wing very soon. Surrogacy is another new concept helpful for those who can’t take long breaks from work.

Autism
Though it is a genetic malady, it also can be attributed to the modern lifestyle where the child is exposed to a lot of screen time on Ipad/TV/Mobile. Parents get them addicted to it to either to feed them a few extra morsels or to keep them entertained. Sadly, we don’t have enough institutions taking care of them.

Advice to pediatric aspirants
Work hard and try to update your knowledge through research. Be curious and go that extra mile to learn. I recall, a child was brought to me with multiple problems, one of which was a skin issue. I took the child to the dermatologist and tried to get to the bottom of the problem before treating it.

Advice to parents
They should inculcate reading habit in children and help them build a home library. Having a command over English and maths can take you up the social ladder. Maths sharpens brains & English opens doors of communication. Invest in a good school. Child should take interest in one art form. Presence of at least one of the parents at home is important.

CSR activities
We conduct a lot of health camps which help us in two ways. They help us serve the needy and also gain popularity.

Off the Cuff
Success Mantra
Hard work and perfecting any task I take up.
Secret of your energy
One hour of yoga a day keeps me fit and energised.
Idol
Mr.V.T.V.Prasad Rao, my physics teacher in school and Dr.Veerbhadra, teacher at medical college.
Essentials in life…
Good friend and some relaxation.
What makes you happy?
Teaching.
…sad?
Indiscipline.
Pastime
Watching meaningful and inspirational cinema.

FAVOURITES
Food: Junk food.
Actor: Surya
Actress: Tammannah
Film: Black
Car: Volvo
Song: Songs from Art of Living and old Telugu/Hindi songs
Book: My textbooks

MEDALS & AWARDS

  • Dr. Alahasingari Medal in Physiology -1976.
  • Certificate of Honours in Pharmacology -1977.
  • Rao Bahadur Ramamurthy Memorial Prize in Microbiology -1978.
  • Vemuri Shivaji Rao Medal In Medicine - 1979.
  • Vikram Deo Varma Medal In Medicine -1979.
  • Best Outgoing Student. He was awarded Silver Jubilee Celebration Committee Prize - 1980
  • Bodapatu Venugopal Prize in MD Pediatrics for securing the highest marks in AU.

HONOURS

  • Organizing Secretary AP PEDICON 2000
  • Organizing Chairman AP PEDICON 2008
  • President of AP state chapter of Indian Academy of Pediatrics 2010-2011
  • Scientific Advisor for IAP Visakhapatnam Chapter for the past 8 years.

I ADMIRE HIS HONESTY & INTEGRITY: DURGA, WIFE
Born and brought up in Eluru, Mrs.Kanaka Durga got married to Dr. Radhakrishna after graduation. Woman of a few words, she says, “It was a smooth transition and a perfect sail all through.” She admires Dr.Radhakrishna for his discipline and commitment to his life’s mission. “I never interfere with his work. I have been busy with our two kids while he is busy bringing relief to thousands of suffering children.”

HE IS SUPPORTIVE: DR.AKHILA, DAUGHTER
Working as a Radiologist at Dolphin Diagnostics, Akhila is recently blessed with an adorable daughter- Anvika. She says, “My father supported my decision to pursue Radiology, instead of Pediatrics. When I worked for a short period at Omni RK, I saw him from a new perspective and as the head of an organisation. It was certainly an enriching experience.”

HE IS MY GUIDE: AASRITH, SON
I used to believe in the maxim: You get what you give. But my father made me realise that we should give without expecting anything back and that one scales great heights only through sincerity and hard work.

HE IS MY INSPIRATION: DR.NAGENDRA KUMAR, SON-IN-LAW
A Pediatric Gastroenterologist, Colombia Asia Hospital & Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, Bengaluru, he says that he is highly motivated by Dr.Radhakrishna. “My father-in-law is eager to learn new medical developments & open to suggestions.”

 
 
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