Christian Medical College, Vellore
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Christian Medical College, Vellore

Chennai : India | Oct 20, 2008 at 9:31 PM PDT
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CHRISTIAN MEDICAL COLLEGE & HOSPITAL

Though it is one India's top medical facilities, the Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, refuses to woo patients from the West seeking cheaper treatment.

"The CMC's share in this area is almost nil. The management has no plans to move away from the norms set by Dr Ida Scudder, founder of the institution. It still strives to cater to the needy and poor," Anish Mathai, chairman, CMC Board USA, a supporting organisation based in New York, said during the board's annual meeting.

Dr Prathap Tharyan, associate director and head of the mental health department, said the fee at the CMC is only Rs 6,000 ($130) a year. "When I studied in 1974 it was the same. With this amount one will not even get admission to a nursery school nowadays," he said.

Whenever proposals for increasing the revenue arise, the main concern, Dr Tharyan said, is 'whether it will conform to the principles of Dr Scudder.' Though the institution faces problems like housing, it is not ready to run after money, he said.
Only the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, with more resources and more staff, produces more research papers, he noted.

"The research is conducted after the regular work. The hard work of the staff is unbelievable," he said. "When it comes to satisfaction, 98 percent at Vellore say they are satisfied with their work."

Several doctors and other professionals who studied in Vellore attended the event that discussed ways to help the college.

The CMC does not use cutting-edge facilities, but has everything required for quality medical care, Dr Tharyan said. "The commitment of the staff and others associated with it, makes it a premier organization. The doctors have no private practice and live on the campus. Most of the staff consists of former students. So there is a special bond," he said.

The college has to deal with problematic regulations the government and the medical council introduces that hamper growth and research, he said. If the college got the status of an institution of national importance, such irritations would be over. But so far it has not happened.

Scudder, a New Yorker, visted India in 1892 as a 22-year-old. In Tamil Nadu she was asked to help three women having difficulty during childbirth. John Scudder, her father and a medical missionary in the area, offered help. But the custom prohibited the visit of a male doctor at childbirth.

Next day, Scudder learned that the three women died. She took it as a call form God and returned to America and began studying medicine at Cornell Medical School in New York.

In 1899 she became one of the first women to graduate from Cornell, went back to India and started a one-bed hospital in Vellore, which later became the Christian Medical College.

Scudder's relations are also associated with the CMC Board. The board annually collects about $1.5 million to help CMC Vellore going. Most of the money comes from the alumni and benefactors, Mathai said.

It was the CMC that detected the first HIV infection in India. In CMC, the AIDS patients are also treated along with others and there is no segregation of them. The facility, with a staff of 6500, daily treats 4,500 outpatients and more than 2,000 inpatients.

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CMC, Vellore
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benjiross is based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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