Dr. Govindarajan is a young adult physician who has worked for the past four years at the Friend Family Health Center in an inner city neighborhood in Chicago, and she is currently the Associate Medical Director. She explained how she spent time serving in the poor neighborhoods in Chicago as an undergraduate and after her extensive training, she came back to serve in this inner city community.
Federally funded community health centers (CHC) were first set up to serve poor communities in the U.S.A 50 years ago. There are over 1400 CHC’s, serving more than 26 million patients. The CHC is “community controlled” with more than 50% of Board members from the community being served. These CHCs are typically very busy.
Dr. Govindarajan showed us a picture of Laverne Everheart, the lead receptionist at the CHC, an enthusiastic and optimistic person from the community who has set the tone for the Center by often repeating, “I have no complaints.” In this CHC overloaded with patients and with overworked staff, Laverne has been the inspiration for the staff to provide Sathya Sai Ideal healthcare with a smile.
A critical step in providing ideal healthcare is to give the patient space to “open up” about their problems, and this begins the healing process. She sees every patient interaction as an extraordinary moment -- the culmination of years of training for the doctor; and all that the patient has gone through just to get to the doctor’s office. It is a divine moment. Deeply listening to the patient is the start of Sathya Sai Ideal healthcare. Patients become part of your family when you treat them as kith and kin.
Dr. Govindarajan also described an experience she had with one of her patients, an eighty-year old gentleman. After being his physician for several years, he asked her one-day, “What are your favorite vegetables?” She replied, “okra.” He did not know what okra was. One year later came to the clinic for a visit and brought her a bag of okra that he had lovingly grown for her.
Inspired by the Sai mobile clinic in Andhra Pradesh, India, Dr. Govindarajan and a colleague started visiting people in their homes to offer preventive medicine lessons by joining a community food truck service and adding a health service component. In this manner, they reached people that otherwise would not have had healthcare and encouraged them to go to the community health centers.
Dr. Govindarajan’s talk was both inspiring and touching. She is as an inspiration for all healthcare professionals and especially, the Sathya Sai Young Adults to serve the needy in their local communities.