Why this doctor chose to specialise in veterinary surgery and set up three hospitals for animals
Dr Pawan Kumar's veterinary practice, which began from a rented room, has grown into a hospital with three branches – two in Bengaluru and one in Gurugram.
Pawan Kumar was at medical school in Haryana when he started volunteering with Blue Cross. Over time, he felt his empathy for animals growing. So instead of going in for a master’s in surgery, Pawan chose to pursue his master’s in veterinary surgery in Bengaluru from 2000 to 2003.
His degree got him a government job in Gurugram, but Pawan, now 41 years old, realised he didn’t want to do a job. He resigned from his job in six months, returned to Bengaluru, and started volunteering with Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), an NGO that cares for injured and sick animals in the city. In 2004, he travelled to Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea to learn new techniques in veterinary surgery.
By the time he returned to Bengaluru, Dr Pawan Kumar knew what he wanted to do: open a clinic for animals. What began as a veterinary practice run from a 120 sq ft rental room in Indiranagar has grown into a hospital with three branches – two in Bengaluru and one in Gurugram. And Dr Pawan, veterinary surgeon and Chief Medical Officer at Cessna Lifeline Hospitals, is a well-known name in Bengaluru now.
Despite the pressure and uncertainty, he kept at his practice and with volunteer work with CUPA. It wasn’t easy; a year later, the numbers hadn’t grown significantly.
In 2007, he decided to relocate the clinic to a three-bedroom apartment spread over 2,500 sq ft in Indiranagar. Three years later, Dr Ramesh, a childhood friend, joined him and the clinic took off. Soon, they were looking for bigger premises. “We had 65-70 patients a day at the time. Our diagnostic services were not as good because of space constraints and we didn’t even have an in-house lab. If we wanted to set up all this, we needed more space,” Dr Ramesh told The News Minute.
The duo pooled in some money, took a loan, and bought a place in Domlur in 2011. Cessna Lifeline Hospital was opened on December 3, 2013, but things didn’t go swimmingly immediately.
“There are standard courses for training doctors for children, women and people in general. But at the time, there was no standard course for training staff and medical practitioners for veterinary hospitals. So, we researched, looked at courses in developed countries and drew on our own experiences to design a course,” Dr Pawan shared.
Cessna has come a long way, with new branches and 13 doctors who clock at least 10 hours a day.
However, Dr Pawan believes that veterinary care in India still needs major work. “There are not as many rules and standards here – for instance, there is no protocol for setting up blood banks for veterinary needs. Isn’t that something basic,” he asks.
That said, he’s happiest when he’s at his clinic, amid animals. “If someone offers me a prestigious post to be a surgeon for people today, I know I wouldn’t be happy. There is something inexplicably joyous when you are able to relieve an animal from its pain. They do not talk, but the love in their eyes, and the wag of their tail is worth it all for me,” Dr Pawan said.