By Peter A. Sutters Jr.
Dr. Judith Jaeger, who works at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks has worked with her friend, Dr. R. Thara, on several committees sponsored by the World Health Organization and visited her clinic in Chennai (formally known as Madras), India, in January last year. Chennai, a city of more than 5 million people located on the southeast coast of India, is the capital of Tamil Nadu, the Indian state worst affected by the tsunami.Thara runs a non-profit clinic in Chennai called The Schizophrenia Research Foundation that specializes in helping people suffering from the disease lead normal lives. She is also a world leader in schizophrenia research, according to Jaeger. She said the clinic employs about 70 people and although much of the facility was spared from the waves, one residential building that housed 40 or more men was destroyed after it had been evacuated.Jaeger said she has been in contact with Thara on a regular basis through brief e-mails. She said Thara and her staff are safe and have been busy distributing aid to those who need it as well as organizing the community to be able to better help themselves.The facility's “strong rehabilitation philosophy” allows it make the transition from helping only its patients to giving aid to anyone in need, Jaeger said.”They're perfectly situated to deal with the stress that is put on these communities,” she said. “Everything they do is to meet a need in the community.”Jaeger said because the clinic is not funded by the government it relies solely on private donations, mostly from families of former patients, and that is why she is asking the public to step in and help out.Jaeger said checks can be mailed directly to the foundation in India and that contributions can be tracked by contacting her at Zucker Hillside Hospital, which is part of the Long Island Jewish-North Shore Hospital network, and she will update donors on the progress of their money.Jaeger said Thara is not a person to overdramatize a situation so she knew it was very serious when she read in an e-mail from Thara that said “this is the worst disaster I've seen.”Send contributions to:Dr. R. TharaDirectorSchizophrenia Research FoundationR/7A, North Main Road,West Anna Nagar ExtensionChennai, India 600101www.scarfindia.orgReach reporter peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 173.