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AIIMS cousin for Bengal - Cabinet nod to Rs 823cr Raiganj institute

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OUR BUREAU Published 06.02.09, 12:00 AM

Feb. 5: The Union cabinet today approved an AIIMS-like hospital for Bengal, with 960 beds and 39 speciality and super-speciality clinics, that will come up on the banks of the Kulik river in Raiganj.

The institute will be the first in the state to carry the “AIIMS-like” label. Calcutta Medical College is being upgraded but the investment involved is not as high as that proposed for the hospital to be built from scratch.

Cabinet spokesperson P. Chidambaram said work on the new hospital, and another in Uttar Pradesh also cleared today, will begin in the next financial year that starts in less than two months.

Each will cost Rs 823 crore, which will be spent under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). The state is expected to provide at least 100 acres and the basic infrastructure. “We have already identified the land and will provide the infrastructure,” Bengal health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

Of the 960 beds, 500 will be for the medical college hospital, 300 for the speciality and super-speciality disciplines, a 100-bed ICU and accident trauma centre, 30 for physical medicine and rehabilitation and 30 for Ayush, the department of Indian systems of medicine and homoeopathy.

According to preliminary plans, the institute will have super-speciality units in medical and surgical neurology, nephrology-urology and gastro-enterology, cardio-thoracic and vascular surgery, integrated medical, surgical and radiation oncology, trauma care, rheumatology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and paediatric neurology.

Bengal does have state-run super-speciality health care units but these are scattered across hospitals. “Patients will not need to run from one hospital to another for critical care. They will get it under one roof,” said S.N. Banerjee, director of medical education.

A 100-acre plot has been identified, North Dinajpur district magistrate Sukumar Bhattacharyya said. “Union minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi had finalised the plot at Sitgram… along NH34.”

Das Munshi, now in a coma, had promised the hospital in his constituency in 2007. His wife, Deepa, said: “I gave him the news in hospital. I am sure from his reaction he heard what I said, but I do not know whether it registered.”

The district magistrate said half of the 100 acres is government land and private owners who hold the rest “have agreed to part with their plots”.

The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underwent heart surgery, is the country’s premier hospital offering affordable and quality health care.

In the first phase of PMSSY launched in March 2006, six new AIIMS-like institutes were approved. Thirteen existing institutions, including Calcutta Medical College, were to be upgraded.

“Construction of two buildings, which will house the academic and out patients’ departments, is on and will be completed by the middle of this year,” said Anup Roy, medical superintendent of Calcutta Medical College.

While the cabinet approval for the institutes paves the way for new and sophisticated infrastructure, replicating the calibre of the human resources at AIIMS and its work culture could prove a challenge.

Many doctors at AIIMS have been students at its own college — rated as the country’s best. Faculty members have a reputation of coupling dedication to patient care with staying in touch with latest advances in medicine through original research. “If there’s one thing that sets AIIMS apart from any other institution, it’s the work culture,” said Devinder Kumar Sharma, the medical superintendent who came to the institute as a postgraduate student two decades ago.

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