It is going to be people’s medical college by all means from tomorrow. Free treatment and medicines for the people and all the schemes of the National Rural Health Mission that includes Janani Suraksha Yojana will be in place for the patients reaching the Cochin Medical College.

For the medical college, the journey has been quite turbulent, right from its inception in the latter half of 2000 under the Co-operative Academy of Professional Education, Ministry for Co-operation, till now when it is poised to be part of the government medical college under the Directorate of Medical Education, Ministry for Health.

It is a win-win situation for the people when a ready-made college is going to be part of the public healthcare system, though the college has a lot of shortcomings. As one of the faculty members put it: “This college was developed by a set of people who had no expertise in developing a medical college. There were a few who had ideas but they were in constantly clashing either with the political bosses or with other higher officials”.

As years rolled on, the alleged mismanagement set off the clamour for government takeover. And the public movement in this regard did play an important part in bringing about the government decision.

The 500-bed college hospital needs to be recharged and refurbished to become a referral centre in the district even as the Medical Council of India has given a nod for five post-graduate courses in medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, microbiology and pathology.

While having post-graduate courses will take the medical college to a higher plane with more doctors around, more clinical work and more research work getting done, what is missing in the college is a vibrant super specialty. Only a neurology department and a pared-down cardiology department function.

The college management had sanctioned these super specialties to enable the college to apply for post-graduate courses. These are yet to be developed into full-fledged departments. Every alternate day the hospital refers 1-2 cardiology patients to the Kottayam Medical College.

Sources in the medical college told The Hindu that the cathlab equipment bought for the medical college got installed in a hospital in Punappra, 80 km away from the college, which was called a satellite centre. The hospital in Punappra is only 20 km away from the Alappuzha Medical College.

As far as other super specialties are concerned there is a neurosurgeon, but no emergency cases are taken up.

For a trauma unit, more neurosurgeons are required. Neurology OP functions with basic facilities. “Gastroenterology is a super specialty that should be set up in the college because of the number of cases that come in for treatment,” said a faculty member.

When all these cases reported in the medical college are sent to far off Kottayam, most of the patients prefer to go to a nearby private hospital. It is in this context that allegations that private institutions are stalling developments in the medical college ring a bell.

The college has nearly 200 doctors, which is about 8 per cent short of what the MCI norms demand, but the shortage of paramedical staff is much more — about 25 to 30 per cent. The college hospital staff worries that their strength would be terribly inadequate to meet the surge in patients when treatment becomes free.

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