The centre is expected to serve as a model for other regional cancer centres in the State

After several months of speculation, the new cancer block at Government Royapettah Hospital (GRH) has emerged from behind blue curtains.

The centre is expected to serve as a model for other regional cancer centres that the government proposes to set up.

So far, the cancer block has received funding worth Rs. 27 crore, of which Rs. 17 crore is meant for the physical infrastructure of the new centre and the rest is for equipment and manpower.

The inauguration of the new building is expected to coincide with the centenary celebrations of the hospital, said dean P. Ramakrishnan. The hospital is awaiting the Chief Minister’s date.

Advanced care

The centre will provide medical, surgical and radiation therapies and accommodate 150 patients. It will also have advanced cancer-treating equipment such as a linear accelerator.

In September, the State government had sanctioned Rs. 10 crore for equipment and manpower, and paved the way for appointment of 83 medical personnel including doctors, nurses, technicians and paramedical staff.

When the cancer ward was commissioned in 1985, GRH received around three or four patients a day. In 1996, with more oncology surgeons being appointed at the hospital, comprehensive surgical treatments began to be offered.

“Most (oncologists) wash their hands off cervical cancer patients after radiotherapy. But 30 per cent of them can be saved (from death) with surgery,” said R. Rajaraman, head of surgical oncology at the hospital.

In the last decade, at least a dozen patients in advanced stages of cancer were treated and saved. The surgeons also modified an existing technique of sacrectomy, a procedure for removing the last few bones of the spinal cord.

The new cancer block will house equipment for mammography, ultrasound, brachytherapy and CT simulation besides three operation theatres, an intensive care unit, post-operative ward and general and surgical wards.

The sixth floor of the building will have a dedicated ward for those being treated under the CM’s health insurance scheme. The department has received Rs. 65 lakh under the scheme in the last six months.

According to Dr. Gunasekaran, work on the ward will be completed by year-end.

Telemedicine centre

Once the department becomes fully functional, Dr. Rajaraman hopes to revive the telemedicine centre. It was started with much ado in 2009 with an investment of Rs. 2 crore.

In the months that it functioned, the centre helped around 1,500 patients from six districts. But lack of coordination between various departments resulted in the centre being shut down. Since then, the centre has remained dysfunctional.

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