New Director of Chandigarh's medical institute outlines his plans

“My endeavour is to make the prestigious Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here more patient-friendly and de-congest the Emergency,” said the newly-appointed Director, Dr. Y. K. Chawla, in an exclusive interview.

Unlike directors in the recent past who came from other faculties, Prof. Chawla, Head of the Hepatology Department, is an “insider”. He has been serving the PGI since the early 1980s.

A faculty member told The Hindu that everyone hopes the new director would be able to make “sweeping changes” as he is well-versed with the Institute's existing “ground realities and inherent problems”.

Acutely aware of the “tremendous pressure on the Institute” with patients, even those with minor ailments, coming in not only from Chandigarh but from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand, he said: “We will request the authorities in these States to take care of their patients by upgrading their health infrastructure.”

Responding to a question, he admitted that the “referral mandate” of the Institute was affected, the faculty overburdened and the facilities overstrained due to the rush of patients. Obviously the faculty could not devote its full attention to research, which was another key mandate of the premier institute.

He said it would be one of his priorities to motivate his colleagues and staff to make the PGI a “world-class institution” by taking up research in a big way and projecting it on the international level which would bring more grants and collaborations with other institutes.

Prof. Chawla said he would like to create a “comfortable working environment” for the faculty so they could pursue their “passion” and academic pursuits.

On introduction of patient-friendly measures, Prof. Chawla said he would strive to reduce the “hassles” faced by patients, especially in getting tests done.

“We will try to put in place a system to ensure test reports are available on the same day or the next day at most,” he added.

Asked about the ongoing projects, he said the Advanced Trauma Centre was nearing completion, and that radiology services had already begun. The stem cell culture facility, PET Scan, 3-T MRI and gamma knife were fully functional, he added.

Prof. Chawla said his focus would be on promoting organ transplants including liver, heart and pancreas transplants.