Dr. Rajesh Saini: Striving To Raise The Standards Of Eye Care In India | CEOInsights Vendor
Dr. Rajesh Saini: Striving To Raise The Standards Of Eye Care In India

Dr. Rajesh Saini: Striving To Raise The Standards Of Eye Care In India

  Dr. Rajesh Saini,    CEO

Dr. Rajesh Saini


Indian Healthcare has constantly been concerned about the problem of avoidable blindness. Over the years, the sector has been able to tackle a number of issues towards eye care. However the unavailability of early intervention in eye care still remains a major issue to reach out to those at the primary and remote areas. In a developing country like India, Government alone cannot meet the healthcare demands. Looking at the scenario, the Lions Club of Siliguri Greater set up an eye care institute to solve the problem of unavoidable blindness for the people of Eastern India. Governed by a trust called Greater Lions Seva Nidhi, Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital was set up in 1981.

Dr. Rajesh Saini joined the hospital as a CEO in 2017. Along with strengthening the main hospital at Siliguri, in the last five years, Dr. Rajesh thrust has been to reach out to the unserved at the primary level. With his vision, a road map and an ably supported by the management and a professional team of Ophthalmologists & Support staff, the brand has expanded to reach out to more population making in roads in the districts. Primary eye care centres. The Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital is now targeting twenty-five thousand surgeries in the year 2022.

In an exclusive interview with CEO Insights, Dr. Rajesh takes us through his professional journey, challenges he has faced as a CEO of a hospital chain in East India, and much more.

Tell us about your professional back ground and experiences. What inspired you to take up the role of CEO at Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital?
I completed BDS from Indore University and began my career as a dental surgeon. Along with treating patients, I started teaching BDS students. A couple of years into it, I decided to shift gears in my career. I realised that hospital management is where my passion lay. I enrolled for M.Phil in Hospital and Health System Management at BITS Pilani. After finishing the course in 2011, I joined an eye care hospital in Bhopal as a hospital Administrator.

In 2017, I came to know about a vacancy for CEO at Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital. The role along with the responsibilities interested me, challenged me. I took a proactive initiative and approached the management. After multiple rounds of interviews, where the management was keen to learn about my vision and roadmap for the hospital, I was offered the post. This year, I completed my fifth year
with the hospital.

I believe in constantly up skilling myself and keeping updated with the latest in my domain. I am a lifetime member of the Academy of Hospital Administration, Noida. I also pursued a Post Graduate Diploma in quality management and accreditation of Healthcare organizations from AHA, Noida & Managing Human Resources for Health in India from Public Health Foundation of India, while working with the hospital. In 2020, I pursued an Executive Leadership Excellence program at IIM, Bangalore. Dr. Rajesh also a Life member of Asian Society for Quality in Health care & member of International Society for Quality in Healthcare.

How would you define Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital as a healthcare institution and the values it possesses?
Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital was established in 1981 by the members of the Lions Club of Siliguri Greater to provide eye care services, especially to patients who cannot afford the treatment. In 2020, we did eighteen thousand surgeries and out of those twelve thousand were done free of cost.

In 40 years of its journey, the hospital has grown to be the largest eye care hospital in the region as Sight First Lions Hospital. In addition to the base hospital, that offers comprehensive eye care, we have spread our services through 42 primary eye care facilities across east& north east India, spread across three states that provide comprehensive eye care treatments. We have evolved our specialization from basics to cataract, refractive errors, glaucoma, retina related treatments.

The hospital, as I mentioned, is supported by Lion Club members & LCIF. They are the true champions. LCIF globally has a long history of serving the blind and visually impaired, and remains committed to continuing this mission Members of Lions Club of Siliguri Greater form the governing body of this hospital. The entire Board is very supportive towards the mission. Being professional in their attitude, they have given me independence to work as a CEO. I have a talented, professional clinical, para-medical & management team and wherever we have reached today it is thanks to my management's steadfast support and my team's collaboration.

How has been your response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you describe your role in tackling those challenges?
When the lockdown was announced on 24th March 2020, the health ministry of India mandated every hospital to take care of only emergency services. The priority was clear and here we didn't take up
any cataract elective surgeries and cases of eye diseases that didn't fall under the emergency category.

We have a guideline provided to us by the GoI and by WHO, based on which we created SOPs for the hospital and eye care centres. The eye care centres were allowed to treat the patients at the community level only. If there were any patients from these centres who needed immediate surgeries, we provided sterilized vehicles that brought them to the hospital.

In your professional journey so far, which are the milestones that bestowed you with utmost satisfaction both as an individual and as a healthcare industry leader?
When I started working with Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital, we had a single hospital and now after five years, we have four hospitals under one umbrella. I am fortunate that with the support of INGOs and corporate CSR, we now have 42 vision centres from the 10 earlier. By the end of the year, we plan to open eight more centres.

These centres are crucial for providing eye care services for those who do not have access to eye care. In that context, these centres are pivotal in our mission towards eliminating avoidable blindness. This has helped us increase the number of beneficiaries and the number of patients that we have helped in these years.

Our hospital is supported by NGOs, and in the last five years, we have on boarded a multitude of national and international NGOs who have joined hands with us to support our vision. They are the ones who made our journey from one to four hospitals possible. We have also built dedicated training and research wing, where we train the optometry students so that they grow in their careers and we also absorb some of them in our hospitals and eye care centres. We also run DNB-Ophthalmology course & various fellowships for Ophtalmologists. Providing quality comprehensive community eye care &reaching to the unreached is the goal of the hospital.

Dr. Rajesh Saini, CEO, Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital
Dr. Rajesh is a Dental Surgeon with an M.Phil in Hospital and Health System Management from BITS Pilani. He has led Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital from one hospitals, to four hospitals and 10 primary eye care centres to 42 centres in his five years of work at the hospital.

•Favorite Cuisine: North Indian
•Favorite Book: Leadership Secrets by John C. Maxwell
•Hobbies: Watching Cricket & Photography
•Favorite Travel Destination: New Zealand & Shillong

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