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Heritage tag for British-era AMCH structure

- Surrounded by chrome, concrete and glass highrises, Jorhat building stands in dwarfed isolation

Dibrugarh, April 17: The Assam Medical College and Hospital’s outpatient department here stands dwarfed by the multistoreyed structures surrounding it.

A remnant of the British era military hospital, the outpatient department will be preserved as a heritage building, as AMCH bulldozes a path of expansion with the single-storey Assam- type architecture giving way to chrome, concrete and glass highrises now housing the different departments and laboratories.

Pointing to the changed skyline, principal-cum-chief superintendent of AMCH, Atindra Kumar Adhikari, said the outpatient department would also be expanded to take in an increased number of patients.

However, the new three-storeyed OPD will be built alongside this, instead of razing down the structure.

“We will preserve this as a heritage building as it is one of the few structures left which bears testimony to the time when the Assam Medical College was established in the erstwhile US military hospital of World War II on November 3, 1947,” he said.

“In the past two to three years, almost all the pre-1947 buildings have been replaced. From last year, the four-storeyed basic science departments have been brought together in one four-storeyed building with two wings. These are the pathology, anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology and pharmacology departments. A new paediatrics surgery, plastic and burn surgery and orthopaedics departments are now housed in separate multi-storeyed structures. Medicine has also got four storeys for itself,” Adhikari said.

An emergency block is also nearing completion.

“Once this is established, an accident victim need not be taken to different departments to get X-rays and scans and other tests done. There will also be a doctor on hand all through the day to deal with emergencies,” he said. Established with a Rs 5-crore grant from the department of biotechnology is a state-of-the-art genetic laboratory.

“This laboratory is the first of its kind in the Northeast. It started last month and helps in pre-natal diagnosis of genetic disorders. As part of the facility, parents will be counselled, beginning today,” Adhikari added.

The AMCH will also boast of a multi-disciplinary research laboratory, funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, the construction of which is already over. “After we get all the equipment, the faculty and post-graduate students can take up extra-mural research projects, that is research beyond the ones called for academic purposes, like those being done for thesis purposes,” he said.

In 1900, a retired brigadier of the British army, philanthropist and also former civil surgeon Sir John Berry White donated Rs 50,000 to start the Berry White Medical School in 1900 in Dibrugarh.

It conferred the licentiate medical practitioner diploma.

In 1938, the Assam branch of LMP, under the chairmanship of Gopinath Bordoloi, decided to upgrade the school to a full-fledged college in 1938 and this was shifted to its current location at Borbari here on November 3, 1947.