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Times of India
16 August 2010
Hyderabad, India

Doctors Lend A Helping Hand
Each Sunday, a group of approximately 100 physicians, all specialists in different fields, come together to visit temples, churches and mosques by turn in Chicago. What is significant is the fact that they do not come together to offer their prayers to God but to serve mankind.

Meet members of Compassionate Care Network (CCN), a group which comprises doctors, who are mostly from Hyderabad and settled in Chicago. These doctors have tied up with religious institutions and take turns to visit different places of worship and offer quality health care to people who seek it.

Started with an objective to serve people who do not enjoy the medical benefits offered in the foreign country, CCN largely takes care of the immigrant population settled in Chicago and the suburbs. Most of them are from Indian and Asian backgrounds, say doctors.

The network is the brainchild of Dr Azher Quader, a graduate of Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad who went on to do his urology training from New York University Medical Center. He started the network as a small group of like–minded physicians with a zeal to serve the needy.

"Nearly 90 per cent of the people who come for health screenings do not have health insurance or even a primary–care physician to seek advise. Also it can take them months to get an appointment at cost–effective clinics run here," says Dr Badar Zaheer, a doctor attached to the department of Family Medicine at Chicago Medical School and also the School of Medicine at Rush University. Dr Zaheer is a part of the CCN.

The doctors realised that opening another clinic would help them reach out to more people. So Quader decided to bring together physicians who would agree to attend to patients at religious places on every weekend. The physicians are paid a token amount by the temple, mosque or church authorities for the service they render.

"We diagnose the patients but are not in a position to take care of their treatment. They are however mostly put on affordable drugs, available at general health stores," says Dr Badar. For patients, the system means a drastic reduction in doctors’ fees. They also have access to discounted laboratory and x–ray services.

Members of CCN meet once in a month to zero in on the religious places they would reach out to in the following weeks, and depending on their individual workloads, decide on the extra number of patients they can afford to take in during those weekends.

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