Dr. Suversha Khanna, a paediatrician is the president of Dharamshila Cancer Foundation And Research Centre. She founded Dharamshila Hospital and Research Centre in 1994 and is actively involved in ensuring, countinous quality improvement of the hospital. Her journey from a paediatrician to a crusader started when her father was battling with Stage IV prostate cancer from 1981-1988. There was no Cancer hospital in Delhi at that time which could provide him and the family the solace. All they heard was nothing can be done. After his death, Dr. Khanna wanted to change the cancer scene in India and create facilities which were not available to her father.
Inspite of the fact that the financial advisors and the ministry of health advised her that the project is neither feasible nor sustainable. She took it as a challenge. Her only strength at that time was that she had a doting and loving family and friends; good paediatric practice and lot of respect that she earned from people she treated, cared and supported. She was a very wanted person and everyone around her listened to her but these virtues were not enough to start dreaming about a cancer hospital. No knowledge base, no access to funds required for a cancer hospital, no management skills, no access to beaurocratic and political circles to get the desired clearances for the project were major hurdles. This did not deter her and she went ahead to register a NGO with the objective of starting a 300 beds, state-of-the-art comprehensive cancer care and research centre in Delhi.
It was a big challenge to travel roads less traveled, traditional rules for setting up hospitals were not applicable. There was no defined model to follow, funds were inadequate, the survival and success depended on the ability to be committed, creative, flexible and adaptable. She trusted our own instincts, set her own rules and embraced challenges. All this demanded risk taking of the strategic kind, where you step into untested waters, reflect upon your own core strengths and think of the needs and wants of the cancer patients. As she walked along these less traveled roads, her skills were further honed to take on the unexpected. It took her four years to commission first phase of the hospital with 100 beds and another six years to add additional 200 beds.
She had to give up her practice, cushy and comfortable life; say bye bye to pleasurable and enjoyable activities and sell most of her and the family assets to achieve this. She started with a humble beginning, kept on adding new equipments / facilities which were not available even in the entire country and took lot of pioneering steps to grow from strength to strength. It took her seven years to break even. It was in the tenth year that she started dreaming of adding additional 200 beds, Bone Marrow transplant unit, PET CT, replacing old equipment, adding addition equipment and facilities and renovating the old building.
Realizing the extremely poor availability of trained oncologists and oncology nurses in India, she started India′s first DNB Programme in Medical Oncology in 2001 and Surgical Oncology in 2003. DNB Radiation Oncology and Pathology were added later. She also started Post Basic Diploma in Oncology Nursing (PBDON) for the first time in North India and is trying hard to start M.Sc. Nursing Oncology.
She realized that to achieve maximum cure rates, one has to ensure high quality to treatment with safety. This had to be accredited by an outsourced agency. She got herself trained as NABH Assessor in 2006 and worked hard with the entire team of Dharamshila Hospital to get ready for NABH Accreditation. Finally, in 2008, Dharamshila Hospital And Research Centre became India′s first and only NABH Accredited cancer hospital.
By God′s grace, she has realized her most cherished dream of establishing India′s first and only BMT Centre with a sustainable haploidentical bone marrow transplantation programme with half matched family donor. Today, Dharamshila Hospital is one of the largest Cancer Hospital of North India with three hundred beds. It has facilities for cancer prevention, early cancer detection, state-of-the-art equipment to deliver radiation therapy including IMRT, IGRT, SRS / SRT, SBRT and Brachytherapy, chemotherapy; bone marrow transplantations, blood and blood component therapy; immunotherapy; targeted therapies; cancer surgery, intensive care, rehabilitation, palliative care and supportive therapy. Dharamshila is actively involved in global multicentric drug trials and research projects.