No prior announcement made; staff from GH deployed to see a few patients

It was supposed to be erstwhile chief minister and DMK leader M. Karunanidhi’s dream building. Built with the expertise of a German architectural firm and incorporating elements of the Dravidian style, the new Assembly complex came up where the heritage Admiralty House and CB-CID office (home to the governor during British rule) once stood, on the Omandurar Government Estate.

Amidst protests from environmentalists, trees were axed to pave way for a granite structure that was to be a modern building offering space for the state’s elected representatives to debate and decide on the fate of citizens.

By the time the building was completed, the DMK was on its way out. Then began a long, legal wrangle with cases in the High Court and Supreme Court that eventually led to the closure of the building prematurely. About a week ago, the High Court paved the way for the conversion of the massive complex into a hospital, as envisaged by current Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The structure today, is a picture of neglect. The granite floors have lost their sheen and the office furniture needs a new coat of polish.

A peek into the building which is now open to the public revealed that some restrooms on the ground floor have been built with consideration for persons with disability. The Assembly hall is under lock and key.

Public Works Department officials will use some parts of the building as an office, and prepare a new plan to accommodate another dream – that of a multi-superspecialty referral hospital.

On Wednesday, with no prior announcement, the State health department began the functioning of an outpatient ward from the Secretariat premises.

The usual protocol of inviting the Chief Minister or even the health minister to inaugurate the hospital was ignored. Instead, a small inauguration function was held where director of medical education C. Vamsadhara, health secretary J. Radhakrishnan and a few other senior officials of the health department participated.

While the cardiology and neurology specialities were launched, Dr. Vamsadhara said the hospital’s facilities would be expanded in phases. There were also some nondescript banners announcing that the building was now a referral hospital.

On the premises, where once-green lawns had turned brown and algae had covered the water fountains, a few doctors and nurses waited for patients. Six doctors and four nurses along with half a dozen hospital workers occupied the building. All the six specialists, nurses and hospital workers were from the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.

Two consultation rooms and a room for a pharmacy were thrown open for public use. The few patients who came for treatment said they had heard about it from friends or had chanced upon it after seeing the banner outside the Estate premises.

Doctors however, said that the hospital would cater to the workers in the nearby MLA hostel and residents in Chintadripet and Triplicane.

The OP clinic will work from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and ECG facilities are also available. Neurologists will take up cases of head aches, seizures and the like.

An EMRI 108 ambulance has been stationed at the building for emergencies. However, the hospital will function only as a referral centre and road traffic accidents will not be handled, the doctors said.

The specialities to feature in the new hospital are cardiology, cardiac surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, hand micro reconstructive surgery, medical and surgical oncology and vascular surgery.

SC to hear appeal today

The Supreme Court on Thursday will hear an appeal against a Madras High Court judgment refusing to interfere with a major policy decision of the Jayalalithaa government to convert the new Tamil Nadu Secretariat complex into a hospital and a medical college.

A three-Judge Bench directed the matter to be listed for hearing on Thursday after senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for the appellant R. Veeramani, challenging the High Court verdict, made a ‘mention’ for early listing.

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