Sages of the New Covenant
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
– 1 Corinthians 10:13
Some day in 1992 in a private hospital in Madras ….. The Children were around the bed of an old man. They were all sad, not because he was dead; but because they had difficulty in settling the medical bills. The hospital authorities had refused to hand over the body to the children, till the time the medical bills were cleared. At the same time, they did not want to give an impression that the hospital authorities were like Shylock of the Shakespearian play: ‘Merchant of Venice’; hence they had kept the tubes attached to the body intact to make the other patients believe that the old man was alive.
This very scene flashed in Swami Sthevananda’s mind on 15th June 1995, when Dr Mohandas, Managing Director of MIOT told him that he would be discharged the next day. One Month of Hospitalization in Accident Emergency Service (AES) ward and in a Deluxe Room, Cerebral Scans, Surgery by an Expert in Facio Maxilla fixation - all that would add to a big bill.
All the executives of GEC Alsthom were covered under a medical insurance scheme. Swamiji’s family members and he was the impression that his medical bills would be directly settled by the Insurance company; hence he informed Dr Umashankar, Medical Officer of GEC Alsthom about the decision of the MIOT people to discharge him on 16th June 1995 so that he would alert the Insurance Company to settle swamiji’s bill. Neither the official from the Insurance Company, nor the staff from the Personnel Department showed their face on 16th June 1995. Finally swamiji contacted Ms Kalyani, who was in-charge of the Medical Insurance at GEC Alsthom. She informed the following, which came as a worrying factor him:
Swamiji was left out with only few hours to settle his bills. How would he mobilize money? He worried a lot. While swamiji was pensive, he had a feeling that God was whispering to him: "My son there must be a way."
Swamiji believed that there would be an escape route from this immediate financial burden. MIOT was then run under the aegis of the Vijaya Health Centre. In the absence of WAN connectivity and Net-banking , in those days the cheque presented to anyone has to reach the presenters bank for clearing; which normally takes two to three days. Hence, swamiji decided to settle the bill through a cheque, with a sole aim of gaining few more days to mobilize money and deposit the required amount into his bank account, before the cheque presented to the hospital could reach his bank for clearing.
Swamiji’s father and he walked to the administrative department to know the prima-facie of his
to MIOT. He asked the in-charge of the Vijaya Health Centre: "I am getting discharged today and I would like to settle my bills through a cheque. Do you accept cheque payment?"
He replied: "You are from GEC Alsthom, so you can pay by cheque, but wait a minute".
He went inside the record room and was searching through the file. In the mean time, swamiji said the following prayer:
"God you have told me that there is way. Please make this man considerate thereby he reconfirms my payment by cheque."
The in-charge of the Vijaya Health Centre came with a file in his hand. His serious looking face brightened up, as he pulled out a paper from the file and looked at swamiji and said:
"Sir why do you want to pay? There is a letter given by your company during the time of your admission. Mr B Venkateswaralu, Manager - Personnel & Industrial Relations had given us a letter that your bills shall be settled by the company. I shall give a photocopy of this letter. Please produce this copy at MIOT for your discharge."
Swamiji just presented the photocopy of the letter of Mr B Venkateswaralu to MIOT and got discharged from the hospital without paying not even single paise; except the TIPS he paid to the paramedical staff who took care of him during the days of hospitalization.
When we trust God, He always makes us to find out an escape route.
The Insurance Company declined to pay for the vitamin tablets and food supplements and for the air-conditioning and paid Rs 58,662/- by cheque to the hospital. The total bill value was closer to Rs 78882/- and the balance of Rs 20,220/- was paid by swamiji in cash. This amount is huge amount in those days.
Most of the workers thoughts that swamiji survived because all the executives of GEC Alsthom were covered under Group Medical Insurance and they demanded that such welfare measures for them as well. During the next Labor Union agreement, the management agreed to extend Group Medical Insurance to all the employees of the Pallavaram Plant. Could we construe that swamiji met with the Road Traffic Accident to become the reason for the extension of medical benefits to all the employees of Pallavaram Plant, where he was then employed?
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Sages of the New Covenant