Many suggested it be used for exactly the purpose that the Tamil Nadu government has in mind

From turning it into a multi-specialty medical centre along the lines of the famous Mayo Clinic in the United States to setting it up as the “AIIMS of South India,” to a hospital that will treat the poorest, readers of The Hindu wrote in over the past two weeks asking that the government use the new building in the Omandurar government estate for a medical purpose.

Responding to this newspaper's call to send in their ideas for the building (A building in search of an idea, August 7), readers cited its proximity to the railway station and other transport connections, the broad roads that lead to it, and the number of rooms and other space inside as ideal for a modern medical institution.

There were suggestions the building be used for exactly the purpose that the Tamil Nadu government has in mind for it: “The building can be used as a multi-specialty hospital. Each floor and building can be used for one specialisation such as cardiology, general medicine, psychology, eye care and so on,” wrote Al. Kothai of Coimbatore.                 

Another reader, Gnanaprakash Shanmugham, wrote in that “owing to the increase in population of Chennai, my suggestion is to make the building an international standard multispecialty hospital, which would relax the head count stress in the other government hospitals in Chennai.”

From New Zealand, Prakash Srivathsan, who described himself as a “native of Madras” suggested that “the new Assembly complex shall be used as an integrated multi-specialty hospital, where all our existing Government Hospital annexes can move in under one roof.”

  Staying with the multispecialty hospital idea, others asserted it should focus on health care for the poor. “Let no citizen of this city go to bed with a worry that he and his family will never be able to afford world class health care because they do not have the means. Let this building be a messiah for the masses curing and healing the battered body and soul of millions of poor and middle income people for whom every day is a struggle,” wrote Balaji Sankarshanan.

Suggesting it be named Chennai Government Clinic after the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mr. Sankarshanan said it should aspire also to the excellence of that hospital, and other institutions of health care in the U.S. such as the Johns Hopkins in Baltimore or the Cleveland Clinic.

Vaibhav Marathe of Banglaore said he “would like this building to house AIIMS of South India. Present building can house both hospital and medical college with very little modification.”

“This physical infrastructure if it can be converted into a massive modern medical centre acting as the nodal point for other facilities, then the benefits of it will be spoken by millions for ages to come. It's very unfortunate that even the well to do people of our society fly out to get treated abroad for want of quality facility at home. Why should the common man be denied his right to fight the disease?

Many, including former students of the Madras Medical College, wanted the institution to be shifted from its present location to the new building which is now lying unused.

“My suggestion is that this building be converted as ‘Madras Medical College and Multi Specialty Research Centre' or ‘Chennai Institute of Integrated Medical Sciences',” wrote Dr. K.M. John, of T. Nagar, Chennai, stressing that it be used for “the masses/poor public.”

He also had a number of specific suggestions for utilising each part of the massive complex as various arms of a teaching hospital.

Another idea, from M. Chandrashekhar, was “to shift the existing Madras Medical College and hostels to this complex and use the existing MMC study facility rooms and hostel rooms to increase the number of hospital beds for the poor people.”

The Omandurar complex, located on Anna Salai, was originally envisioned for the Legislative Assembly and Secretariat by the erstwhile DMK government. After the AIADMK government came to power, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa decided to return the seat of power in the State to its earlier premises at Fort St. George.

“The public transport connectivity to this place is the best possible that is already existing for people to access,” wrote Nanda. “The exit routes from the building campus [are] also a perfect choice for a quick and efficient access to health care transport mechanism.”

This reader, who also said it was “wishful” to think the government would invest so much on health care, described the 700 or so rooms as “perfect to add any medical service and international research infrastructure to serve a large number of people. The convention centre made for the Assembly gathering could be a perfect conference arena for the medical and the research fraternity to invite experts from all over the world”.

From Royapettah, Mansoor Ahmed said he wanted the building to become a home for destitutes, orphans and the abandoned, or “the government may consider a high-end hospital with medical college to check private players fleecing public. Location is an advantage with Metro across and existing elevated rail. And this is the need of the hour.”

Among the many suggestions by R.M. Ramji, an LIC agent, was a hospital for women and children named after the eminent Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy.

Anish.R of Tuticorin wanted the building to be converted into “a fully equipped” hospital with a fee paying section for the privileged and free services to the poor.