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What the new hospital and college mean for Chennai

Ramya Kannan
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The demand for an AIIMS-class medical institution here has been articulated loudly for years. The Chief Minister's announcement in the Assembly on Friday comes as an answer to the prayer of many years.

Since the statement on the floor of the House, the buzz in Chennai has been in favour of the move to construct a multi-specialty medical unit in the heart of the city, with easy access to the Central railway station. “There is an absolute need for such a specialised care centre in the city,” says P. Padmanabhan, adviser, National Health Systems Resource Centre, who was formerly Director of Public Health in Tamil Nadu.

“With the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases, and increasing life expectancy, many more people are going to need the services of such a super specialty hospital to take care of complications arising from NCDs. Again, with more health insurance schemes to benefit a cross section of income groups, more people will tend to use the specialised facilities than ever before,” Dr. Padmanabhan adds.

On the lower side, it is estimated that the number of beds in multi-specialty hospitals in the private sector in Chennai could be in the range of 5,000 beds, while in the public sector it is over 6,000 beds. The demand, however, is far higher and is constantly growing, city-based doctors stress.

“Chennai certainly needs more beds. At any given point of time, all the hospital [multi and super specialty hospitals] beds are full. Shortage of beds is what we are constantly grappling with,” says Apollo Hospitals MD Preetha Reddy. She articulates her belief that it is a great idea to utilise the vast space available with the government in the heart of the city for something that would benefit a large number of patients.

K.M. Cherian, founder, Frontier LifeLine Hospitals, says this is a welcome move, especially at a time when Chennai has begun attracting persons from other nations seeking health care. “The government must take care to spend sufficiently to equip itself for a multi-specialty hospital of world-class standards with good infection control to ensure world class outcomes,” he adds. Perhaps, the government could draw inspiration from similar centres in the private health care domain.

The addition of a medical college on the premises (in Block B) spread over 7.8 lakh square feet will create more seats and go a long way in resolving the human resource crisis in the medical sector in the country, adds Dr. Cherian, who himself began his medical education in a government medical college.

MIOT Hospital's founder P.V.A. Mohandas says that the idea to re-covert a building lying idle into a hospital is ‘fantastic.' It is the best way now to utilise the building once conceived of as a Secretariat complex. The bed crunch that the city is facing necessitates the addition of more and more quality health care establishments to take care of patients. The new hospital would reduce the rather serious bed crunch scenario in the city, which is a hub for patients from all over the country and the world. The re-designing, he suggests, will have to be done by a combined team of doctors, hospital administrators, architects, and contractors.


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