Quality healthcare

Print edition : March 14, 2003

Pune boasts a number of state-of-the-art hospitals which provide quality healthcare.

MEDICAL services in Pune have come a long way from the days when Ruby Hall Clinic - today a `superspeciality' hospital - had just two beds, an X-ray unit and a small laboratory. Jehangir Nursing Home - today a partner of the Apollo Group of Hospitals - was a cluster of quaint little cottages. "If you wanted a good surgical operation done, Dr. Rustom N. Cooper from Bombay had to come here to perform it," recalls Dr. K.B. Grant, chairman and managing trustee of Ruby Hall, who began his career at Jehangir in the 1940s.

Today, new hospitals with towering buildings, state-of-the-art facilities and qualified doctors offering treatment in virtually every branch of medicine, have made Pune the preferred destination for many patients. Once Puneites rushed to neighbouring Mumbai for any major medical examination or surgery.

Lighter on the pocket than Mumbai hospitals, but offering equally good diagnostic services, procedures and medical care, Pune's hospitals are attracting patients from outside the city as well. While many of them come from outlying districts of Maharashtra where medical facilities are poor, an increasing number come from Mumbai.

The change of nomenclature of Jehangir Nursing Home to the more sophisticated Jehangir Hospital and Medical Centre, typifies the way medical care has changed in Pune. In the 1940s and 1950s, Jehangir was the only hospital of note in Pune. It was started in 1946 with money put up by the philanthropic Sir Cowasji Jehangir and Lady Hirabhai, who turned over one of their gracious old homes in Pune to house the hospital which was named after their late son Jehangir.

Today, parts of the old house still exist, but they are eclipsed by the impressive new building that came into existence after the Chennai-based Apollo Hospitals Group put up Rs.20 crores in 1998 for the hospital's expansion and makeover. Apollo has entered into a 20-year agreement with Jehangir Hospital to manage the hospital, though the latter still retains its board of trustees.

The 275-bed hospital now boasts 52 out-patient department (OPD) consultants, six state-of-the-art operating theatres (OT), and centrally monitored intensive care units (ICU), including a neuro ICU unit with multipara monitors. "The ICUs and the OTs are the heart of the hospital and everything from the design to the asepsis meets the highest standards," said Sainath Pradhan, marketing manager of the hospital. A fully digital X-ray machine, CT (Computed Tomography) scan and other hi-tech equipment aid the diagnostic processes. The hospital is fully equipped to handle every form of surgery, except cardiac surgery. Tariffs range from Rs.175 a day for the general ward to Rs.2,050 for the most expensive private room, with various mid-way options. A privilege card for corporates has been introduced and, more usefully, a new emergency service will be operational from March when a medically equipped ambulance with trained paramedics on board will respond to any emergency call in the city.

The Ruby Hall Clinic, the brainchild of Dr. K.B. Grant and his late wife Tehmina, was started in 1959. Today it is a 525-bed multi-disciplinary hospital offering every line of treatment, and is housed in a lofty multi-storey building. Innovations and additions over the years, including a full-fledged nurses' training school, a nuclear science centre, a blood bank, and various departments, have added to its reputation.

About four years ago, Dr. Grant went in for an ambitious Rs.43-crore expansion of the hospital, which increased both its capacity and services. Around 400 angiographic procedures are performed in its cardiology and cardiac surgery department using Philips Integris 3000 and HM 2000 systems. Facilities for rotoblator angioplasty and temporary and pacemaker implantations are also provided. Recent additions include a neuro-trauma unit; a PCR (polymerace chain reaction) laboratory, a key technique in molecular diagnostics; a mammography unit, and an IVF (in vitro fertilisation) unit. On the cards is a Rs.15-crore building that will house the cancer department. Currently, the hospital charges Rs.1,200 a day for its most expensive room.

Set in the sylvan surroundings of the posh Koregaon Park is the Inlaks and Budhrani Hospital and MNB Cancer Institute. Started by the Sadhu Vaswani Trust in 1989, it keeps the less well-off patient in mind. Registration in the OPD can be made for just Rs.25, which includes the doctor's fee. The 150-bed multidisciplinary hospital has advanced equipment and offers good diagnostic services.

The hospital's MNB Cancer Institute, inaugurated in 1995, is the only comprehensive cancer treatment facility in Maharashtra outside Mumbai. Diagnosis is aided by computerised mammography, spiral CT scan and dual head gamma camera. Radiation therapy is delivered through world-class systems such as Linear Accelerator, Micro Selectron HDR and a Simulator and Treatment Planning Computer. Room rentals range from Rs.150 a day in the general wards to Rs.1,000 for a deluxe room. Facilities for homoeopathy, ayurveda and naturopathy are also available to patients. Several medical camps are held every year as part of the hospital's outreach programme, and three general check-up schemes are offered. A new building to house the eye and heart institutes (the latter in conjunction with Escorts, Delhi) is coming up.

The N.M. Wadia Institute of Cardiology, which was established in 1966 as a two-bed unit, has 48 beds now. It was the first non-government hospital in Pune to start a coronary care unit with facilities for catheterisation, angiography, angioplasty, stenting and open-heart surgery. The Digital Cinless Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory, installed in 1997, has state-of-the-art equipment. The institute also has echocardiography and Doppler units, and two operating theatres adopting the strictest standards of asepsis and containing sophisticated equipment, have been added.

The neighbouring Jehangir Hospital sends its cardiac cases here, but in addition N.M. Wadia attracts patients from all over the city and beyond. It has acquired a reputation for providing excellent cardiac facilities at manageable costs.

The Sancheti Institute for Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, founded by Dr. K.H. Sancheti in 1972, is a 150-bed hospital occupying one lakh square feet. It claims to be the largest orthopaedic hospital in South-East Asia. It offers services in all specialities of orthopaedics: joint replacement, traumatology, spinal surgery, paediatric orthopaedics, Ilizarov techniques, arthroscopy and sports injuries, and hand and plastic surgery. Four specially designed operation theatres, well-equipped pathology and radiology departments, a 24-hour accident and emergency department, and a health club are some of the facilities it offers. A newly opened Knee Clinic devotes itself to treating knee ailments. Tariffs range from Rs.175 a day for a bed in the general ward to Rs.850 for a deluxe room.

One of the oldest hospitals in Pune, the King Edward Memorial (KEM) was started as a three-bed unit in 1912 on land given by the Moodliar family. Today, it has 550 beds and offers all kinds of treatment except cardiac surgery. It is run by the KEM Hospital Society, a charitable trust. Since the 1980s, it has upgraded its facilities. Magsaysay Award winner and a legend in Pune, Dr. Banoo Coyaji, who joined KEM many decades ago as chief medical officer, has presided over much of the hospital's growth over the years. She still remains a trustee.

The showpiece of the hospital is the 24-bed neo-natal ward with its own ICU and state-of-the-art facilities to treat babies with low-birth weights and born prematurely. This is only fitting since KEM originally started out as a maternity hospital. It remains the hospital of choice for many expectant mothers, since it has highly skilled doctors and nursing staff. An infertility centre was started about five years ago. A new six-storey building is slated to come up, with additional labour rooms and other facilities. KEM also runs two satellite hospitals, one at Vadu on the Pune-Nagar road and the other at Kane Phata on the Pune-Mumbai road.

On November 1, 2001, the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, a project of the Lata Mangeshkar Medical Foundation, and managed by the Jnana Prabodhini Medical Trust, threw open its doors to patients. The 10-storey, 450-bed general hospital has a 65-bed ICU and CCU (coronary care unit), a 22-bed neo-natal ICU, 12 operation theatres, a kidney transplant unit, an ultra-modern blood bank, and cardiac and radiology departments among an array of medical facilities and services. It has a 300-capacity auditorium for medical seminars.

The city has several other hospitals. The crucial factor is that the hospitals are not finding it difficult to attract good professionals. Many doctors who have trained abroad and have returned to India find Pune a congenial place to live and work. With hospitals like Ruby Hall and Deenanath Mangeshkar having started nursing schools, there is a pool of trained nurses to draw from.

Jehangir claims to be growing at a rate of 30-35 per cent a year, while most other hospitals featured here report 80-85 per cent occupancy. Undoubtedly, `health is wealth', going by the demand for Pune's quality healthcare.

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