Madurai Corporation’s First Woman Doctor, Obstetrician R Padmavathy Turns 100 On April 27

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Madurai first woman doctor: On April 27, obstetrician R Padmavathy will celebrate her 100th birthday. She is Madurai’s first woman doctor and has been struggling with arthritis over the last eight years.

Dr Padmavathy, who is achieving a milestone this year, will have to celebrate her birthday by just cutting a cake at home with loved ones from across Chennai and doing a video call with distant relatives, says Dr R Gurusundar, her eldest son, who lives with her in Madurai.

Madurai first woman doctor:  Who is Dr R Padmavathy?

pioneer in obstetrics, Padmavathy’s physical abilities are restricted now after undergoing treatment for arthritis. She is also confined to her room over the last 14 months due to the pandemic induced social distancing measures. She has three sons, a daughter, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren settled between the US and Chennai. Padmavathy grew up to care for women’s health after being inspired by her father Dr R Sundararajan. Her father was a well-known Licensed Medical Practitioner, who in the 1900s, cared for the plight of women in the region as they chose to suffer than consult male doctors.

Dr Padmavathy had nine siblings. Five sisters and two brothers went on to join the medical profession. She was reportedly criticised for going to school. Talking to The Hindu, she even shared some incidents when people from her community would often throw her school bag into the well but each time, her father bought her a new set of books. After schooling, her family pressured her to get her married at 15 but yet again, her father got her enrolled at The American College, Madurai, for Intermediate. He wanted Padmavathy to serve unfortunate pregnant women in hometown Madurai.

Later, she completed MBBS from Madras Medical College in 1949. She also got the opportunity to join Government Erskine Hospital in Madurai as a House Surgeon under the guidance of her father, who was working there as a Senior Civil Surgeon. She was 28 then. “My father believed in equality and empowerment and motivated me to become a role model for young girls,” she said with pride.

Padmavathy then got selected as an Assistant Civil Surgeon and was posted as the medical officer in Kodaikanal Government Hospital. She became the first lady doctor to join the Madurai Municipality in 1950. It was later upgraded as Corporation in 1971.

As far as achievement goes, as the first woman doctor in the region, she introduced the domiciliary deliveries in the rural corporation where health visitors assisted safe deliveries in the homes of pregnant women who could not visit hospitals. The health enthusiast also got the Corporation Council’s approval of an exclusive 24X7 standby ambulance that could rush pregnant women to the Government Hospital in case of emergency.

Over the years, she helped in the safe delivery of thousands of babies through normal childbirth and built a 10-bed nursing home-cum-residence on Perumal Koil Street, Chennai, with her husband G Ramaswami, who was a school headmaster.

Feature Image Credit: The Hindu