Ian & Jenny Olver’s Visit to Vellore – January 2014

I visited CMC to represent Australian FOV at the Council Meeting in January. Priorities have changed significantly since my last visit 2 years previously. The focus of the Council in 2011 was the development of the Chittoor campus. Now the focus for the Council is on the Kannikapuram campus where a new Hospital complex will be built to relieve the pressure on the city campus given that across all departments there are in excess of 7000 outpatients each day. Essentially some of the tertiary services will move there as part of this development and architect?s impressions show a very impressive new campus.

To better serve the townspeople of Vellore the Hospital has opened the Alpha Clinic. This is a no appointment clinic which is paperless and cashless and where the consultants see the patients.

The NEET verdict which allows CMC to continue its selection process for its medical students was discussed as was the achievement of National Accreditation Board for Hospitals accreditation and accreditation for laboratory quality and an award by KPMG WCRC for the best private medical education. They have also been granted a reprieve from having to cover workers under the Employees State Insurance Scheme in addition to the care and benefits that CMC provides to its employees.

The Council chair Dr Kuruvilla Varkey dedicated several new facilities in the presence of the Council. There was a mobile blood bank for the Hospital campus, a renovated gymnasium and a children?s playground in the residential zone of the hospital, and the Bioethics Academic Unit was inaugurated on the College campus. Buildings can be completed very quickly utilising the technology of prefabricated modular components. I should also note how comfortable the Scudder Auditorium on the College campus has become;  air-conditioned and with comfortable seating and new audiovisual equipment.

Of particular joy to the Australian FOV was the announcement that the new Dean of the Faculty of Nursing was Dr Selva Titus Chacko. Selva trained in Adelaide in oncology nursing while her husband was training in medical oncology. Their son is now a second year medical student at CMC Vellore and their daughter a member of the dental faculty at CMC Ludhiana. And so a cycle continues.

On the first evening of the Board meeting CMC hosted a meeting for the representatives of the various FOV groups. USA, UK, Germany, Australia and Sweden were represented and we shared our vision for CMC. I spoke to the Director Sunil Chandy about their plans for making the next video. He is keen and has already met with the filmmaker, Tim Nicholls. The concept this time will be a series of short films on several aspects of the work at CMC. He will inform us when this is to occur and other FOV groups are keen to share the cost.

I also spoke about the retreat at Yelagiri for which we had previously allocated funding. That project still exists but has had a series of building approval problems and reprioritisation of projects that have delayed this initiative but is has not been abandoned and the money is still held.

In addition to doing oncology ward rounds and some teaching of the registrars, I welcomed the opportunity of visiting the campuses of CMC while in Vellore


The outpatient facility is now thriving and the biochemistry service is open in support, as is the pharmacy. The chapel has been completed and is a beautiful open to the air building with a stained glass window as its focal point. The inpatient buildings are largely complete externally but work ceased due to problems with a contractor and a change in the leadership in Andhra Pradesh. Landscaping has continued and in particular the old school building on the site which is used for storage and small conferences is now in an oasis of tress and gardens. There is still some of the land under dispute, but most of the fencing has been done.


South Campus

The fencing of this site is now complete. Its development will take second place to the second major campus in Tamil Nadu but a trauma centre had been planned there as it sits adjacent to a major highway.

Kannigapuram campus

Have just completed some fencing and the site is guarded. It is predominantly flat but there is a hill which overlooks the building site. This is the site which is now being developed first with grand plans.


Finally, and one of the personal highlights for me was that as we were travelling through Tindivanam we did a chance detour to visit the house where Ida Scudder was visiting  her father when she received her call to service through three men seeking her help for their wives in labour. The house is falling into ruin, which seems such a pity. Diagonally opposite is an orphanage with a large statue of Aunt Ida in the forecourt. Her work continues in many guises.




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