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Dancing Heals Through Doctors Heels

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Dance is to me what white is to light – inseparable, no matter what’s in its way.

By dancing, there is oneness with time and space, where rhythm is as important as the silences in between. No matter the style, the dancer reacts to music and the world around, capturing through nuance, what at times coincides and collides perfectly to produce the “wow-factor”.

My relationship with dance began early in life. I waited outside my sister’s dance class only to reproduce the same movements outside - often times having mirrored her movements later at home. Eventually, my parents approached her teacher to induct me in to the same training. With time, this connection with dance became stronger, though the opportunity to further these ties has actually waned – by this, I mean that I can no longer devote the kind of time I would like to present new work.  

Then the Tsunami of 2004 happened. My world changed. I was so profoundly affected by the utter devastation and started to react by creating a dance-homage. A few months later, with equal vigor, Katrina ensued. By then, there were people displaced on both sides of the globe and I found a registry of displaced artists from New Orleans . After making initial contact, I went down to this “near-Atlantis” and approached a modern dancer to collaborate in a homage dedicated to the victims of both the Tsunami and Katrina, to explore the commonalities of what they suffered and the intercultural exchange such an idea would generate. It is funny that the sole purpose of this exercise was healing; mine in the first instance and then those who would be a part the program. Finally, if people who were affected could somehow watch this dedication, perhaps they too might have been afforded some kind of redemption. In August 2006, Ocean of Light , dance production dedicated to remembrance and rebirth for the victims of these epic disasters was performed. The program was debuted in my new-home city of New York and then traveled down to New Orleans . Though I wore many hats for this event – concept, choreography, grant-applicant, dancer, tour organizer, chauffer, butler, custodian, and the like, it was only after the program was over did I reflect on what I enjoyed the most – to dance.

The medium I chose is Bharata Natyam, steeped in tradition that has its origins of technique from the Natya Shastra. The dance form existed as a temple ritual but became a part of the social fabric to narrate mythology and legends, later going through painful times during pre-independent prudence of the British colonial era and finally being resurrected and finding a grand stage in practically every second home in the South and now the rest of India. In the US and elsewhere, the fervor for young kids to study Bharata Natyam is unwavering.  This has taken a toll on some aspects of dance, namely quality work that takes years of learning in favor of a much hastier, instant version that parents can delight in “on demand” for unsuspecting friends and family. So my kind of dancing is here to stay. It is beautiful, rich and profound. But its message is simple. In the words of Kalidasa, the epic poet from the 5th century, he says, “Dance alone is the one medium that can cater to diverse tastes and for many people at one given time”.

I now use my dance to explore themes that need social politicization – recently having danced at a festival on gender and sexuality at the Lincoln center, trying to understand and be sensitive to issues central to the theme of equality. My work was performed as a duet to a poem by Abraham Cowley that questioned love in every aspect as being no less than the conventional form. So love to a child gets equal weight as that of a gay lover. It is hard to believe but some of my movements were borne of an earlier morally charged dance production that I performed with a brilliant dancer from Ahmedabad , India on Gandhi’s philosophy and interpretations of his letters. The program called Mahatma – from Truth to Enlightenment premiered at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Gandhi Jayanthi of 2003. I have become passionate about using my dancing for socially relevant themes, but at the same time, not forgetting the need for the artistic merits of any work being at the forefront of the creative process. 

I have successfully made the transition from dancer to dancer lover and now see dance through the eyes of my four year old daughter. Perhaps I will return to creating something new and not wait till the next catastrophe, for is it not the every day things in life that are worth the celebration?

Sanjay Doddamani, MD
Associate Director
Department of Cardiology
North Shore University Hospital
New York


Mohan Peter Family Scholarship: A helping hand for those in need

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 A helping hand for those in need           

 The cost of medical education throughout the world has shown a steep upward trend, something which makes medical education more and more unaffordable.  St John’s (as Rev Fr Percy Fernandez used to always say ) “ stands on a different footing all together “, charging its students only one third the fees incurred to train a student. There are many different scholarships available. A medical student or PG who feels the need for scholarships in St John’s Medical College needs to fill in a simple one page form providing some basic information. The committee finally grants various scholarships, out of which the Mohan Peter Scholarship goes to the top three candidates ( as of 2001 ) on a merit-cum-means basis. Dr. Mohan Peter, an alumnus of batch of 1963 had established the Mohan Peter Family Scholarship with a corpus of $25,000/- for the benefit of financially challenged students at St. Johns. This scholarship is awarded yearly to three medical and PG students on a merit-cum-means basis.I dreamt of attending medical school ever since I was a kid. After my admission into St John’s I realized the burden of the fees on my parents and  (following the advice of Dr Mary Ollapaly & Dr Sayee Rajangam) applied for scholarships. I was very appreciative and honored to be one of the recipients of the Mohan Peter Scholarship in 2001. Besides the obvious monetary relief, it impressed upon me the fact that they are people out there who care for us, who have dreams and who are working hard to reach them. My dream of becoming a doctor was only made possible through the Sylvia Kamath Scholarship ( Dept. of Anatomy ) 1998 to 2003 and the Mohan Peter Family Scholarship 2001, which tremendously helped me further my medical school education.

Scholarships are very important. It lightens the financial burden which allows us to focus on the most important aspect of school, learning. Dr Mohan Peter's generosity has inspired many to help others and give back to the community.  I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as I have been helped by others.    

General Information:
Number of scholarships awarded yearly ? : 3
Eligibility: Merit-cum-need
Who can apply? : Medical and PG students
Where to apply ? : Deans office
When to apply? : Around March, yearly
Form: Basic information/ photograph
Amount: Rs 16,300.00  ( as of 2001 ) 

A few other scholarships:

The SJMC Alumni Association Scholarship Founded by the executive committee of the SJMC ALumni Association in 1992. Awarded to two post graduate students on a merit-cum means basis each year.

The Professor A.N. Radhakrishnan Scholarship Founded by Dr. A.N. Balasundaram. Awarded to one post graduate student on a merit-cum-means basis each year.

Mr. Thomas Putti Memorial Scholarship Founded by Dr. Joseph Putti in 1991. Awarded to an undergraduate or postgraduate student of St. John's medical college on a merit-cum-basis each year, with additional weightage to those who show keen interest in cancer research.

Dr. R. Chavrimootoo Scholarship Founded by Dr. R. Chavrimootoo, ALumnus of batch 1967 in 1992. Awarded to a post graduate student on a merit-cum-means basis each year.

Peter Menezes Scholarship Founded by Mrs. Brice Menezes in 1994 in memory of her husband. Awarded to two post graduate students on a merit-cum-means basis each year.

Dr. Sr. Mary Glowrey JMJ-CHAI Scholarship Founded by the Catholic Hospital Association of India. Awarded to one PG student on a merit-cum-means basis each year.

Ms. Louise Rebello Scholarship Founded by Ms. Louise Rebello in 1995. Awarded to one PG student on a merit-cum-means basis each year.

1991 Batch of MBBS Student's Scholarship Founded by the 1991 batch of MBBS students. Awarded each year to a PG student on a merit-cum-means basis.

Dr. Paul Francis Mooken Memorial Scholarship. Founded by the 1987 MBBS students and Dr. Paul Francis Mooken's family. Awarded each year to one PG student on a merit-cum-means basis.

1993 Batch of MBBS student's scholarship Founded by the 1993 batch of MBBS students. Awarded each year to one PG student on a merit-cum-means basis.

Niraj James Shah, Batch 1998This was just a small note to pass along a very large and sincere felt thank you


Spectral analysis of noise in the neonatal intensive care unit.Indian Journal Of Pediatrics

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Spectral analysis of noise in the neonatal intensive care unit.

St John's Medical College Hospital, Bangalore, India. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OBJECTIVE: To perform spectral analysis of noise generated by equipments and activities in a level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and measure the real time sequential hourly noise levels over a 15 day period.

METHODS: Noise generated in the NICU by individual equipments and activities were recorded with a digital spectral sound analyzer to perform spectral analysis over 0.5 - 8 KHz. Sequential hourly noise level measurements in all the rooms of the NICU were done for 15 days using a digital sound pressure level meter . Independent sample t test and one way ANOVA were used to examine the statistical significance of the results. The study has a 90 % power to detect at least 4 dB differences from the recommended maximum of 50 dB with 95 % confidence.

 RESULTS: The mean noise levels in the ventilator room and stable room were 19.99 dB (A) sound pressure level (SPL) and 11.81 dB (A) SPL higher than the maximum recommended of 50 dB (A) respectively ( p < 0.001). The equipments generated 19.11 dB SPL higher than the recommended norms in 1 - 8 KHz spectrum. The activities generated 21.49 dB SPL higher than the recommended norms in 1 - 8 KHz spectrum ( p< 0.001).The ventilator and nebulisers produced excess noise of 8.5 dB SPL at the 0.5 KHz spectrum.

CONCLUSION: Noise level in the NICU is unacceptably high .Spectral analysis of equipment and activity noise have shown noise predominantly in the 1 - 8 KHz spectrum. These levels warrant immediate implementation of noise reduction protocols as a standard of cre in NICU

1: Indian J Pediatr. 2008 Mar;75(3):217-22


Healthcare at the doorstep of Bangalore's Elderly

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St John's Medical College and Hospital, Bangalore, has started a senior citizens health service aimed at providing medical care at reduced rates and improving the quality of the health and life of older persons in rural and urban areas around Bangalore

Senior citizens comprise a sizeable section of our population. Yet elders become socially marginalised due to failing health and a diminishing capacity to contribute productively to the economy. This in turn leads to financial constraints, which prevents them from accessing available medical facilities.

senior citizens health service

“The healthcare needs of the ageing require a different focus compared to that of the general population,” says Dr Arvind Kasthuri, Professor, Department of Community Health, St John’s Medical College, Bangalore. “While elders are prone to diseases such as pneumonia, which affect the general population, the presentation of symptoms and side-effects differ. Elders are also prone to health problems specific to them. When an elder falls, the causes could be a balance problem or a heart syndrome. Doctors need to take a specialised approach to the causes and treatment. The aim would be to preserve and restore bodily functions rather than rigid control of the disease.”

The government does not offer dedicated health services for older persons, and private facilities are scarce and expensive.

To address this need, a senior citizens health service has been started by the community health department of St John’s Medical College and Hospital, Bangalore. This service is aimed at providing medical care at reduced rates and improving the quality of health and life of older persons in rural and urban areas around Bangalore.

The healthcare programme has a multi-pronged approach. The urban programme is located at St John’s Hospital, with its existing wide range of multi-specialty services. The Senior Citizens Health Clinic at St John’s Hospital was launched in 2005. A weekly senior citizens clinic is held at the hospital, at reduced fees, aimed at making the hospital visit of the elderly as comfortable and useful as possible. A home health service registers seniors within a 5 km radius of the hospital, assesses their health status at the clinic, and follows up with monthly home visits by a doctor and nurse. The programme also encompasses assisting institutions for destitute elderly in Bangalore, and is currently serving two such institutions.

The rural thrust of the programme is of special interest as it takes medical care to the doorsteps of elders living in outlying areas. The rural programme commenced in 2003 based at the Mugalur Community Health Training Centre, a village 30 km from St John’s, which is the longstanding rural field practice base of the medical institution. This programme currently covers five villages, and there are plans to increase that number.

Each new rural clinic is opened after a survey of older persons resident in the village to document their number and healthcare needs. Cooperation of village elders, panchayat members and mahila mandals is sought in order to make the clinic a welcome facility rather than an alien imposition upon the community. Once a village is identified, monthly clinics are regularly conducted for senior citizens. Seniors are assessed by doctors, and a notebook with details of their treatment and follow-up is given to each of them. Drugs and investigations are provided at reduced cost with the aid of public donations. A community health worker makes home visits between clinics and motivates the elderly to adhere to treatment, visit the clinic and report problems early. Currently, surgery for cataracts is done at a cost of Rs 200 at the Mugalur health centre. Plans are underway to extend this facility to ear, nose and throat surgeries.

A visit to a typical monthly clinic held at Kugur village on May 7, 2008 showcased the medical team’s methodical and holistic approach. Cooperation and participation from the village community is actively sought. The room for conducting the clinic is provided by a village resident, along with chairs and tables. The system is streamlined to ensure maximum benefits. On the Saturday prior to the clinic, a team from St John’s goes to the village to take fasting blood and other samples. The samples are analysed at St John’s and the medical team arrives for the clinic with ready reports. “Our aim is to devote as much time as possible to listening to and addressing the problems of the elderly,” says Dr Kasthuri. The doctors from St John’s take time to examine each patient, asking questions regarding medication taken, follow-up, and food habits. Cases requiring specialised consultations are referred to the nearby Mugalur health centre.

Educational sessions aimed at creating health awareness are an integral part of this programme. At 10 am, Dr Swaroop held an interactive session on anaemia with the assembled elders, using pictorial materials created by medical students. It was heartening to see the enthusiasm among rural senior citizens as they arrived dressed in their festive best. They answered questions readily and said they encouraged their friends and neighbours to come for check-ups. Thimmarayappa, aged over 100 years, arrived unescorted, embodying the positive spirit of the elderly. Impaired vision due to corneal opacity obviously did not deter this sprightly grandfather from enthusiastically participating in the proceedings. By the end of the session, over 25 elders were medically examined, with blood sugar levels measured where required and medicines dispensed at reduced rates. The doctors took great care to explain the dosage and method of taking the medicines.

The St John’s team acknowledges problems faced by the elderly which require social intervention. Problems such as maladjustment and ill-treatment within the family, abandonment and loneliness are identified by community health workers during field visits. They talk to family members, as well as friends and neighbours, in an attempt to arrive at the root of the problem and offer possible solutions.

During the clinic at Kugur, Chikkaraju, a professionally trained social worker attached to St John’s, visited the family of Thimmakka, aged 75. She had been abandoned at a young age by her husband and had struggled lifelong as a farm labourer. Nearing the end of her harsh and poverty-stricken life, she is now disabled and mentally disturbed. She lies in a thatched animal shed outside the family cottage, alone and neglected. The social worker gently tried to persuade her relatives to take her to the Mugalur health centre for a primary consultation with the orthopaedic doctor, psychiatrist and other specialists. Follow-up care could be given at the time of the medical team’s monthly visits, she told them.

“We arrive at their doorsteps and offer a helping hand to cases such as these,” says Dr Kasthuri. “We try our best to motivate them to avail of medical assistance. We persuade them to meet us halfway and take interest in improving their own lot. That is the best approach for lasting beneficial results.”

St John’s Medical College and Hospital
Sarjapur Road
Bangalore 560034
Tel: 080-25526385

-- Monideepa Sahu

(Monideepa Sahu is a Bangalore-based freelance writer of both fiction and non-fiction, with a variety of interests including social issues and literature)

India’s ageing population
Consider these facts:

  • While India’s population tripled from 361 million in 1951 to 1.027 billion in 2001, the number of elderly people has increased more than four-fold from 19 million (4% of the total population) to 77 million (7.5% of the total) during the same period.
  • The UN’s forecast is that the phenomenon will be repeated in the next 50 years as well: Total population will be up by 50%, from 1,017 million in 2000 to 1,537 million in 2050, but the number of those over 60 years of age will multiply four-fold from 77 million (7.55%) to 308 million (20.14%) within the same time-span.
  • Since 92% of the working population does not fall within the purview of any formal scheme for old-age income, this could swell the numbers of those below the poverty line.

-- From ‘Implications of an Ageing Population in India: Challenges and Opportunities’, by Prakash Bhattacharya of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India for the Symposium on ‘Living to 100 and Beyond’ held at Orlando, US, in January 2005. Entire paper available at:

InfoChange News & Features, June 2008


Dr Poonam Kashyap: Quoted In Parenting .Com

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6 Surprising Things Your Baby Needs
By Deborah Skolnik, Parenting

...the chance to experience frustration

You'll come to know your baby's "help me, Mommy," wail  -- it's an angry, urgent sound. If she makes it when she's got her foot caught in the vacuum-cleaner cord, come running. But what if she's trying to turn the pages of a book?

"Even if they aren't happy about it, sometimes babies need to struggle a bit. It's the only way they develop independence," says Punam Kashyap, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at the Institute for Child Development at Hackensack University Medical Center, in Hackensack, New Jersey. Say your child's trying to reach a teddy that's a foot or so out of her reach. If you simply hand it to her, she'll have no motivation to figure out how to wriggle across to it.

Whatever she's trying to do, cheer her on and, if necessary, make it a little easier for her (position the bear so she can grab his leg; give her toddler-friendly books with easy-to-turn pages). You'll both be better off.

...not-so-bland foods
Unseasoned purees are a smart way to introduce a baby to solids, but if you get more adventurous after a few months, you might be pleasantly surprised. "If you want your child to eat a variety of foods, exposing him to different tastes and textures by the time he's a year old is very important," says Dr. Kashyap.

You may not realize it, but your baby was exposed to a sampler of your favorite foods even before birth  -- tastes from what you ate mixed into the amniotic fluid he was floating in. And he may have gotten another pass at your "taste" in food if you nursed him, since breast milk picks up hints of whatever you nosh on.

No one's suggesting you heap your baby's serving tray with spicy chicken wings, but there's no harm in mashing up a little lasagna or your legendary sloppy joes. Even if he spits them out, don't assume he dislikes them; he could just be exploring the texture. Give foods two or three tries over several weeks, and if he doesn't take to them, offer them again in another month or two.

If you want to read the article below is the link

Poonam is a Johnite from Batch 1973


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