Newsletter, Australian Vellore Board, December 2021

Dear friends,

It is almost two years since we sent you the last newsletter. Our sincere apologies. I guess we could use the COVID crisis as an excuse!

Since early 2020, there have been no fund-raising, or any other events held at the state level. But this does not mean we have not been busy. I will try and summarise the happenings during the period.

Council meetings ? January 2020.

David Runia, Chellam Kirubakaran and Stephen attended the meetings at Vellore. It was a wonderful experience, especially for David to experience at first hand the functioning of the Institution and also to visit the campuses in Chittoor, Jawadhi Hills and Kannigapuram. We had the opportunity to meet the other international FOV delegates and share the news about the activities of our respective groups.

International FOV Group Round Table Meetings

One of the outcomes of us meeting the other FOV delegates was that we all felt that we should continue to stay connected with each other during the year. It was thus decided to hold quarterly zoom meetings. We have had three meetings so far and they have been really beneficial. At every meeting, the Director presents a news update from the CMC.


We have finally drafted a new constitution, which was presented at the AGM in October 2020 and was accepted by the Board. It was long overdue, and the extra time that was available to us during the COVID lockdown was very convenient. Our thanks to all of those who helped in making it possible with their suggestions and meticulous proof reading. A special thanks to Philip Slade a former treasurer of the AVB, whose legal input into the final draft was very much appreciated.


Two AGMs have been held since our last letter, in October 2020 and 2021. Both took place via Zoom, and we had the privilege of attendance by the director Dr J.V. Peter on both occasions. Because of the convenience of meeting online, there was greater participation by delegates from various states and alumni. There were changes to the Board of Directors. Prof. David Runia moved to the position of the secretary, Dr Mahiban Thomas was elected as the Vice-President and Dr Sharon Thomas was elected as the Publicity Officer.

Accounts and Auditing

There has been an ongoing problem for quite a few years due to our accounts not getting done on time and being audited before the AGM. We also lagged behind with auditing of accounts for two previous years. This has now finally all sorted out. We have new auditors and, using a professional accounting package, it was possible to present audited accounts at the last two AGMs. Our thanks to our treasurer Richard for his effort in making it happen, and also to our current auditors C & N Auditing Service for their prompt and timely attention.

Vellore News


Since early 2020, CMC has been heavily preoccupied with the management of the COVID pandemic. The Tamil Nadu state government requested them to help with managing the affected patients in two different districts, which involved using the resources both at both the Vellore and the Kannigapuram campuses.

There were four stages in the management of the COVID crisis.

  1. COVID Preparedness                             March ? May 2020
  • First Wave                                             June ? Sept 2020

At its peak, CMC had 910 General and 100+ ICU Beds allocated. A total of more than 10,000 patients were treated. Mortality was 5.4%. 55,000 tests were done with 23% positive results.

  • Second Wave                                        March ? August 2021

The patients were younger and sicker and so needing greater oxygen supply. 1150 general and 200 ICU beds were occupied at its peak. 16,000 patients were treated with a mortality of 9.6%. There were 1000 admissions to ICU. In addition, 3000 patients were managed in a home monitoring programme. There was limited shortage of some drugs. Valuable assistance was given through large donations in cash and kind from FOVs, Alumni, Well-wishers, and especially from large corporate bodies, e.g., Oxygen generators / concentrators.

  • Vaccinate Vellore campaign.                   Started in July 2021

The project aims to vaccinate 70,000 residents in the local area under the care of CMC. The current numbers are that 55% of Vellore residents have received first dose (in mid-October)

  • Current state:

At present there are 35?50 beds allocated for COVID treatment. 70?90 patients are admitted per week. 95% staff are fully vaccinated. There is a healthy rebound in numbers of normal work, including a long waiting list for elective surgery.

Looking to the future:

Planning for a third Wave is taking place. Most probably there will be a larger proportion of younger aged patients. CMC is well prepared for it and has adequate equipment.

There are also many plans in place for technological innovations, clinical services, and outreach programmes. Research is still very active despite the COVID pressures. Major collaborations have been agreed upon with two Australian universities. During the above period over 1000 research publications have seen the light of day. A dedicated research block is planned to be built in Kannigapuram campus.


Income fell by 70% during the first wave and 30% during the second Wave. Inevitably this meant a shortfall in revenue, amounting to about US $ 900,000. At the current rate of income, these losses should be recovered in 6 months? time

Thankfully, there were unexpectedly high donations, quite a substantial proportion of which coming from Indian sources.

2020?21 (April to March)                        US $10 Million

2021?22 (since April)                              US $6 Million so far


Vellore campus. Paul Brand Block: The Old nurses? home in the Vellore campus has been renovated into a 3 ward 105 Bed orthopaedic unit with 11 Operation theatres and 12 ICU beds. The building work was completed in May 2021 and initially it has been used for managing COVID patients, but from August it has been busy doing orthopaedic procedures.

Kannigapuram campus (pictured above). There has been a small setback in relation to completion. Hopefully, the new hospital will be completed in May 2022 and can then start functioning as a tertiary referral hospital and Trauma centre. In the meantime, the general wards and ICU have been used for treating COVID patients.

A most generous grant donated by Canada based Quess/Fairfax corporation to build a paediatric centre at the Kannigapuram campus will get started in the near future. The planning phase will take another six months and hopefully the building process can start in July 2022. It will be completed in two phases: each providing 350 beds. It is fully funded by the donors. The first phase will cost about US$ 40 Million.

Chittoor Campus. The hospital has been growing and was least affected by the COVID from income point of view. The Residential quarters for doctors and for the general female staff will both be completed soon. New X-ray block is ready. The work on the Nurses college and student quarters will start soon.

Jawadhi Hills. The long-awaited mother and child block is at the stage of applying for a building permit. Hopefully, work will start soon. This project is funded by the USA Vellore Foundation.

Yelagiri Retreat Centre. This on again off again project is finally going ahead. The delays were caused, we believe, by other building commitments. As you will remember, the money for the project was mostly raised through a donation from the Australian FOV a decade ago. About $500,000 is available, including the interest accrued since then.

Our Donations.

We were blessed by the outpouring of the generosity of many nationwide to help the hapless Indian population. Most of the donations came from first timers and people who have no connection to CMC. Our total income for this year was 60% more than last year and the contribution by those who were not regular FOVs went up by 400%.

We transferred A$400,00.00, same amount as during the previous financial year. Vast majority of our allocations was towards COVIs related expenses.

Our contribution towards COVID since March 2020 has been:

1st Wave                                                A$ 391,408.00

2nd Wave                                               A$ 237,060.00

Vaccinate Vellore Campaign                   A$ 133,000.00

Total                                                      A$ 761,468.00

State FOV News:

As already mentioned earlier, no events were held by the state branches. But their fund-raising activities kept them busy. Committee meetings and AGM were held by Zoom.

There have been some changes to the state executives with new office bearers being elected:

Queensland: Dr Sharon Thomas, President; Dr Shoma Baidya, Secretary

South Australia:  Mr Tijo Thomas ? Treasurer

Australian Alumni Association: Dr Geeta Sales – Secretary

Support to Mission hospitals during the COVID.

Some alumni in Australia initiated a project to help the mission hospitals in India which were not part of the CMC family, as they were struggling to cope with the COVID pandemic. The CMC Alumni Association made an MoU with a local overseas charity organisation called HealthServe Australia. As a result, many alumni were able to donate tax free contributions towards this fund, which raised about A$42,000. The money was distributed via the Christian Medical Association, India. It was a really a worthy cause and we extend our congratulations to them on their success.

Thank you

The Board wishes to express its gratitude to the members of the state branches for their passion that they have shown in their commitment to the CMC and for the demanding work in raising funds during recent years.

We wish to thank all our friends for your support and help during the year in upholding the work done at Vellore. Since early last year the Institution and its staff have gone through a really tough period. We hope and pray that the good Lord will continue to sustain them and guide them in their task.

Hoe you all have an enjoyable and blessed Christmas season and hopefully a COVID free and healthy New Year. Best Wishes.

Dr Stephen Aseervatham       President (NSW)
Dr Mahiban Thomas              Vice President (Alumni)
Prof. David Runia                   Secretary (Victoria)
Mr Richard Caitens                Treasurer (Qld)
Dr Sharon Thomas                 Publicity Officer (Qld)

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