There is a saying which goes like – “Success is a journey and not a destination.” On September 15, 2020, our state of Manipur in the north-eastern part of India got its first hospital dedicated to cancer care and treatment with the inauguration of Babina Specialty Hospital. With this, the people of this state as well as those residing in adjoining states can avail the latest cancer treatment facilities at a nearby location and at affordable rates. From what I gathered, the hospital will be managed and run by Babina Group of Companies in collaboration with American Oncology Institute (AOI). It is situated at Shajiwa, Imphal East, in the outskirts of Imphal City. The hospital premise is surrounded by lush-green fields and has a scenic view of the surrounding green hills.
As the state does not have a dedicated hospital specializing in cancer treatment, patients are left with no option but to go to big metropolis like Delhi, Kolkata, or Mumbai and also other big cities to get access to the latest facilities in cancer treatment. In doing so, the patients have to face many problems and hardships. As a resident of this state, I’m happy and proud that such facility has become operational as this is going to be a blessing to many patients who have to travel to distant places for procuring treatment. One cannot remain in denial of the existence of this dreaded disease and the unpredictability of its occurrence. For one thing, it is tough to have the disease itself, plus there are the disadvantages of travelling, the stay, the language and communication barrier, and above all this, the expensive nature of cancer treatment – a huge burden on all counts. The opening of this hospital would lessen some of the problems faced by many cancer patients of this region and would be a big relief to them.
Last week, we got to watch the news about its inauguration on various news media. Before the formal opening, there were talks circulating about its opening around July-August of this year. It seems it got a little delayed because of this ongoing pandemic. Following the occasion, I felt I should share a few of my thoughts on my experiences with this organization for I had the good fortune of being associated with the Babina Group of Companies in its initial years. When I joined the organization it was Babina Clinical Laboratory which a little later became Babina Diagnostics. It was a long time ago – the mid 1990s to be precise. Even if it was for a relatively short period of time (a three-year period), I had a memorable experience of it. A lot has changed over the years. The journey of this company has been an exceedingly commendable one, an incline growth graph all the way. The main credit goes to the vision, planning, and execution by its managing director, Dr. Thangjam Dhabali Singh. Going by the size and standard of our state, it is quite a big organization now, but back then when I was part of it, it was a relatively small one with only about 50 employees.
Fresh out of university, I was offered the opportunity to be part of this establishment. As priorly mentioned, it was the mid 1990s. I had completed my post-graduation in Microbiology, had come home, and was exploring and contemplating what I was supposed to do next. I had plans of pursuing a PhD as my subject was up and coming in those days. It still is, I guess. I was preparing for some exams and looking out for jobs too. Around that time, I went to fill in as a substitute teacher for a friend of mine in a kindergarten school. She had to take a break to give her final year papers. One month into it, I was offered this job for the post of a microbiologist in the lab. That was the time when a revamping of the Babina Clinical Laboratory was being planned and executed. The expansion of the lab was taking shape with other diagnostic facilities also being added to the lab setting. It was then rechristened as Babina Diagnostics.
An acquaintance of mine, a lady doctor in the Pharmacology Department of RIMS, whom I had met in Ahmedabad while I was doing my masters recommended me to them. I got to know her when her family had come to Ahmedabad. Lucky for me, there were few people specializing in subjects like Microbiology back then. They found me and offered the job.
I accepted and joined the organization and worked with them for three years. It was an experience to remember and a learning process for me. Microbiology was my department and my basic work was to do with tests related to this field, but over and above that I also learned about the other aspects of a diagnostic laboratory. Learning in the classroom is one thing and learning hands-on in a practical setting is another. Theories learned in classrooms are applied in work settings. In the course of my work, I got to know many people, learned the ways of handling situations and interacting with people i.e., patients, superiors, and colleagues. The work environment was cordial, amicable, and without discord. The days may sometimes be tiring but never boring, so many incidents, anecdotes, and happenings. There was always something to share and talk about, to take lesson from or to have a laugh. There was cordiality among the staff, and people were always ready to help each other. The one little complaint that I had was the fact that we had very few holidays, reason being that it was a healthcare-related facility.
Around the end of the third year of my working with the lab, I had applied for and given interview for the post of a Vocational Education Teacher in the field of Medical Lab Tech in 10+2 stage and got selected for it. I would have loved to continue to work with them, but fate had other things in store for me. Two things happened. One, I had a very serious health emergency with some complications following it. Because of that, I suffered some deterrence in body as well as in spirits and felt I should slow down a little. Two, I got selected for the job of a vocational teacher which would be a little less demanding and I opted for that.
The work at the lab may be taxing at times, but what I liked about it was the job satisfaction that I got from it and the numerous things that I learned in the process. Stagnation is one thing that I abhor. The teaching job that followed was challenging too, but dynamism-wise the lab one was a little up the strata. I continued to keep contact with the lab as I had to take a few of my students from time to time for apprenticeship training in the lab.
My journey also continued over these years through thick and thin. I have revamped myself time and again to adapt to ongoing changes, changed my fields of work, but surprisingly one field is always somehow related to the previous. The work is not linear but is an extension of the previous. My feelings are that everything that you encounter or go through in life is a learning experience and can be of utility in future. Education never goes to waste.
The relatively small establishment that I used to work for many years ago has now grown to become a sizeable organization catering to the healthcare and hospitality needs of the state and the neighbouring regions and having under its wings diagnostic setups, a chain of star hotels, and now the latest addition with this hospital dedicated to cancer care. For this, I’m all praises and wish them well for many future endeavours. I still feel privileged and proud that I was once a small part of this organization.