Transforming Lives

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Dr. Shailendra Atray, a Physiotherapist chose to remain in the public service with full faith in the system and technology here in India while his peers were leaving the country in droves.

Every time he says an instant and strict NO and questions the other person in return “Why”?

Interns, acquaintances, co-workers, patients and patient’s families asked him many times if he would like to go overseas or join corporate and private hospitals for better opportunities in his field.

But Dr. Shailendra Atray, M.P.T. (Neurology), MIAP (Physiotherapist) and a skill based specialist, distinguished himself by choosing to remain in the public service with full faith in the system and technology here in India while his peers were leaving in droves. He is serving the Government department of physiotherapy for almost 20 years now. He keeps performing in a commendable way even under extreme pressure situations and with limited resources. He has an aptitude for it.

Today “Physiotherapy” is widely accepted as the front line treatment in some cases and an effective branch of medicine. It is acknowledged and it is also acceptable to document in the patient’s medical notes. Physiotherapy includes specific exercises and other methods of treatment such as heat, cold, electrotherapy, therapeutic massage and use of electro-magnetic radio wave machines. Beyond these machines and technology, there is something always needed to uplift lives of many patients.

Dr. Shailendra Atray started practicing physiotherapy in Faridabad, Haryana in 1989 when patients were having little idea or no idea about it. First there was lack of awareness then there was always a doubt in patient’s mind regarding choosing physiotherapy over other clinical treatment.

That was the time when Ministry of Welfare Society realized the need of physiotherapy centre in the Faridabad city and recommended a project. But the local government hospital wasn’t equipped with the right staff, space and necessary initial equipment etc. District Red Cross Society came forward and decided to run this pilot project of Physiotherapy from the premises of B.K.Hospital Faridabad (govt. hospital) to outreach maximum patients and so that under-privilege can also be benefitted.  That’s how the first physiotherapy centre was being set up in Faridabad city and Dr.Shailendra Atray was appointed as a physiotherapist by the Red Cross Society.

There was a major lack of awareness about physiotherapy then. Initially only 3-5 cases were reported on every day basis. . Dr. Atrya initiated a chain of awareness campaigns with 5 other physiotherapist friends. In 1991, first physiotherapy awareness camp was organized at B.K.Hospital Faridabad Haryana, where 80-100 cases were examined on a single day. He and his friends created a formal body of Physiotherapy Association and rigorously organized and participated in various seminar, symposium and workshops.

First official post of a Physiotherapist was announced by the B.K.Hospital Faridabad in the year 2000 and then Dr.Atray also applied for that and slowly made a transition under the payroll of government hospital. Today almost 50 cases of physiotherapy are seen on every day basis at B.K.Hospital and Dr.Atray’s contribution to make it recognizable in Faridabad city is immeasurable.

He doesn’t deny the gap in financials/salaries between government hospital and the private sector. During his long career within the government set up, once for 2-3 years, he successfully tried his hands onto private practice and opened up three physiotherapy centre in Faridabad district. Later he decided to choose a government hospital only.

Health care in a government hospital is nominally free and such hospitals mainly serve the masses who can’t afford to attend private hospitals. More citizens are now receiving the much required treatment they were earlier deprived off.

He feels, “Any government health institution offers time folded studies in continuation, then various community based projects. Sometimes we do face issues because of finite resources then it doesn’t stop us from performing rather force us to use our skills and improvise. We continuously work in an experimental system where senior and experienced doctors are supportive in sharing learning and it is all about team work here. Circumstances and resources limitation shapes up our skills. And then skills become more powerful than machine and technology.”

He proudly adds “If we do not serve the people while working here and practicing on public funds, who will? Then how are the resources that are available with us be utilized?” Dr. Atray feels that government hospital environment has enabled him to treat a wide & varied caseload of patients with extreme conditions.

Dr. Atray said that the Government hospital provides biggest opportunity to run clinical trials but one has to do that under ethical practice. In terms of technology, facilities and system things are improvising every year as the time passes. Government hospitals are good from both the perspectives, i.e. patient and the doctor.

He adds up that internet has already opened up the wider scope of learning and exchanging information and knowledge. Our FDI policies are very clear and international companies are keen to come to India. Besides India has the best of technology. Latest machineries have already been launched in India. We need to check the utility. The true challenge for the physiotherapy lies in deciding what fits where.

Dr. Atray’s aim is largely directed towards creating better understanding and awareness among patients and peers. If empathizing with patient is important to deal with sensitive situations then he also talks about the right treatment with full conviction. “Over the years, significant changes have been seen both sides but a continuous effort still needed” adds Dr. Atray.


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