When patients of husband and wife team Drs Susheela and Viswanathan Krishnan realised the couple were about to mark 40 years in their Cleveland St practice, they clubbed together in a special tribute. Lachlan Colquhoun reports. 

 The UK’s loss has certainly been Surry Hills’ gain. 

Back in 1973, Viswanathan Krishnan and his wife Susheela were all set to emigrate to the UK from their native India when they got a letter from the Australian High Commission inviting them to Australia instead. 

“My father was the one who urged us to choose Australia,” says Dr Viswanathan Krishnan. “He said ‘Australia has no borders, no one is going to invade so you are going to be safe.’ 

“He also said not to worry about the White Australia policy, that over time that wouldn’t matter…and he said Australia is all about cricket and tennis.” So the Krishnan’s moved to Sydney in 1973 and began working in the NSW public hospital system.  

In August 1978 they started working at the surgery on Cleveland Street just as the original doctors who established the surgery were about to retire. So they’ve been there ever since, and marked 40 years this August. “Before I took over there were three other doctors here,” says Dr Viswanathan Krishnan. “So even today there are patients who come to us who were coming to this surgery back in the 1960s when Dr Bushell and his colleagues were here.” 

When long-time patient John Clough heard about the 40th anniversary, he thought it was significant enough to warrant a tribute from the community. He enlisted the help of a signwriting friend and created a thank you plaque which was presented on August 18, 40 years to the day after the Krishnan’s took over the surgery. 

“You could say that Dr Krishnan saved my life,” says John, who reveals that an early diagnosis at the surgery picked up some cancerous growths which were removed just in time. “I’ve been going there for 26 years and I really think they’ve made a great contribution and I thought it was important to say thankyou. 

“You know Dr Krisnhan still does house calls for his patients? He must be one of the only doctors in Sydney who still does that. You can ring them at their home.” 

As for the Krishnans, other members of their family followed them out to Australia and have settled here. They have three children, one of whom is a neurologist at the Prince of Wales hospital and the other two are lawyers. Their parents also emigrated. 

“As for retirement, that is a big question,” says Dr Krishnan, who is several years older than the average retirement age. “I tell my patients that as long as I am fit and healthy I can serve the community. We enjoy what we do and being part of it. 

“We are about to go away on holiday, but I tell my patients they don’t need to go and find another doctor because we will be back.”