OOP Digital Desk: Hop on to a local train to Barasat from Sealdah and get down at Hridaypur. A glimpse at ‘Aniler Chayer Dokan’, a humble tea stall on platform 2 and you are unlikely to notice any difference with other similar stalls that dot railways platforms all over the country. Only that this one doubles up as a dispensary which has helped cure many critical patients almost free of cost. Run by Prayas, a nongovernment organisation, Shyamal Das, or ‘Daktar Dada’ is the brain and soul of this stall. Das is no doctor but an income tax official who is fondly called by that name. For more than 15 years now, Das has facilitated treatment of hundreds of patients, along with a group of doctor friends and other professionals.
The tea stall is swamped by patients on weeknights, while on weekends, the line starts since early morning to meet Das. He has no day-offs. His mobile phone rings continuously and Das responds to each call. He speaks to the patient, disconnects the call, scans his contact list, and calls up the appropriate doctor. He then connects the patient to the physician.
Das started the practice a decade and half ago. Today, he is not alone. He has several doctors from the neighbourhood who have come forward to share his load. Moreover, more than 30 senior physicians from government hospitals are on his network.
Das says that it all began by chance when he came across a critical patient who required urgent help. He was posted at Chinsurah back then and used to help many local doctors to file their income tax returns. The patient—a boy— suffered from an orthopaedic complication. He called SSKM senior orthopaedic Kaushik Chakraborty who referred the patient to sports medicine specialist R Paramanik. The boy now plays football. And that’s what makes Das proud.
Subir Ganguly, a senior oncologist, says that Das’ energy is infectious. He never takes no for an answer. That has inspired a lot of doctors to come forward and share his burden, he says.
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