01 July 2011
By Mrunmayi Ainapure
For Doctor’s Day today, we salute the good old family doctor – a fast disappearing breed, who happened to be your family friend, philosopher and health guide
“She has been treating her since she was a baby and notices the slightest change in her health. And she went about it so coolly and firmly without alarming us unnecessarily!”
Whom do you turn to when you’re feeling blue? A close friend who comforts you and makes you feel warm inside? Someone who knows you for a long time and understands you more than anyone else? If that’s true, when you’re ill, why would you go to an impersonal specialist when you have your own family doctor?
Family physicians have been an integral part of most homes. In case of emergencies, these doctors who are often considered as family members, are ready to rush to the patient armed with their experience and emotional back-up plus their ubiquitous stethoscopes and BP apparatus even in the wee hours of the night! Family doctors neither demand appointments nor exorbitant fees.
Dr Anand Biniwale, one of the city’s famous family physician has served three generations of more than 10,000 families till date. “No matter how much medical science progresses, the importance of family doctors will never lessen,” says the soft spoken doctor. “The common man cannot afford to wait for hours in the waiting rooms of specialists and pay heavily for every little health issue. Everyone prefers an approachable doctor who gives them personal attention.”
Dr Biniwale took up his life’s mission for an interesting reason. Hailing from a remote village Devrukh, near Ratnagiri, as a child he saw that there was only one doctor in the entire village who treated everyone. It was then, so many years ago, Dr Biniwale decided he would study family medicine and treat whoever came to him for help. “Many families have an emotional attachment with me and trust my opinion completely. Their trust thrusts a huge responsibility on me and I have to live up to their faith in me.”
Another eminent family doctor, Dr Dilip Joglekar feels that there should be a balance in the number of family physicians and specialists. “With more doctors turning towards specialisation, this balance is going haywire. I hope the tradition of family physicians survives the next few decades down the line,” he says. “If more youngsters take up the specialisation of family practice, the tradition of family doctors will thrive again.”
Saurabh Gandhi, a resident doctor studying general surgery has another take. “Earlier, fewer doctors took up specialisation so the option of consulting a specialist was not easily available, which is how the concept of family physicians came up,” he argues. “Today, the situation has reversed, and there are accessible specialists whom people can easily visit. It is all about having options to choose from. If people have the extra bit of money to shell out, they’ll obviously prefer to receive the best treatment possible.”
Notwithstanding this alarming trend, there are still many families who swear by the impeccable diagnosis of the family physician. Architect Tanvi Pendharkar is one of the die-hard believers. She confesses that no matter how grave or mild an illness she or her family member might be suffering from, she always consults her family physician, Dr Sudhirkumar Mundle first. Reasons she,“Whether it is a simple migraine problem or when I had contracted the deadly swine flu, I only trusted his judgments as he understands my health inside out.”
DR Anand Biniwale
No matter how much medical science progresses, the importance of family doctors will never lessen. The common man cannot afford to wait for hours in the waiting rooms of specialists and pay heavily for every little health issue. Everyone prefers an approachable doctor who gives them personal attention.