As Holy Family Hospital, one of the oldest medical institutions in New Delhi, celebrates its diamond jubilee, we take a look at its journey.

Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi is known for its community programmes and affordable healthcare; it celebrates its 60 year of existence on October 3. Dr. S. Warsi, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, speaks to The Hindu about the services the hospital renders and its future plans. Excerpts:

Holy Family Hospital is one of the oldest medical services in the city. On the occasion of your diamond anniversary, could you outline the major milestones that the institution is proud of?

The hospital was started by an Austrian doctor, Dr. Anna Dengel, who had travelled to many Asian countries, and was invited to St. Catherina’s Hospital in Rawalpindi in the undivided India. She had observed that many women were not taking advantage of modern medicine because they did not want to consult male doctors. As a result, they were dying due to totally preventable ailments. Realising that the need of the hour was to gather women doctors, she went to the U.S. for help, set up the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in 1925 and later returned to Rawalpindi. When Dr. Dengel took over the reins of the hospital, she renamed it Holy Family Hospital.

In Delhi, the foundation of the hospital was laid on October 3, 1953 by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then Vice President. It originally had eight beds, but today has grown into a multi-speciality hospital with 326 beds; a general OPD and a private OPD, an emergency ward supporting up to 150 patients… Our priority and our USP is to provide affordable care... we are a not for profit organisation but we function with utmost professionalism.

We do not believe in providing preferential treatment to anyone, all patients are equally important…I have been with this hospital for 27 years and I have grown with the hospital. The great thing about working here is that I don’t have to worry about the financial status of the patient. If someone can’t afford surgery in a commercial multi-speciality hospital, we can take care of him or her here with the same facilities and competence.

The hospital was first registered as a non-profit organisation. Sixty years have gone by and two more branches have come up. What drives the institution to stick to its initial commitment of community service over monetary success?

We have three institutions other than this one, which are 100-bedded facilities in Gurgaon, Mewat and Sona Road. The Gurgaon facility is fully-functional. They will follow the same policy of community service and affordable healthcare for all

It is the commitment of the institution that rubs off on you to keep your devotion to community service. Majority of our consultants have been here for over 10 years and once they join, it is very hard for them to leave. Anyone new to Holy Family will either leave in the first year itself, or won’t be able to leave. I, for one, am treating second generation of patients. There are cases where I have treated the father or the mother and now I treat their children. It is extremely satisfying and makes you feel that your decision to become a doctor was worthwhile, and you can tell yourself that “Yes, I must’ve done something right”. I think it speaks volumes for the hospital.

Seldom is an allopathic hospital seen advocating homeopathy and Ayurveda. How have you been able to build a synergy between the three streams?

The idea has always been to give holistic care, and give a chance to alternative medicine which has been around for ages. And it is better to practise them in an established setting where they will be under some kind of surveillance… Sometimes, chronic diseases like arthritis are better treated with alternative medicine. Allopathy does not have the answer to everything…

You are known for your community outreach programmes. How did these evolve over the years?

We have many active community outreach programmes; we look after some slums in the area. We have a free clinic within the hospital once a week. Other days we have a community doctor who visits the slums and distributes medicines. The doctor sometimes uses a mobile hospital van or sets up shop at a government dispensary.

We also take cases from other private hospitals. For instance, there is a child admitted with us right now who is scheduled for a surgery in a nearby private hospital, but prior to the surgery he has to be under medical care and can’t be looked after at home. Moreover, the family can’t afford to keep him in that hospital; so he is admitted to our general ward.

Along with healthcare, you also have provisions for health counselling. What kind of counselling do you give?

We have a hospital counsellor who looks after the patients as well as the staff. For patients who have been in the hospital for a long period, the counsellor visits them and has a chat. It’s basically about giving that human touch because sometimes the doctors get very busy.

What is the hospital’s vision for the future?

We are now looking to open a medical college. We have received the essentiality certificate from the Delhi government and are now looking for funds.

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