Wednesday 22 January 2014

Eastern Command Hospital: Healers of the East

The Army Medical Corps (AMC)
The Army Medical Corps (AMC) traces its genesis from the erstwhile Indian Medical Service that ushered systematic medical treatment in our country.  

The AMC commemorates its 250th raising in January this year. In this enduring saga lasting quarter of a millennium, it is only natural that a hospital whose existence is just a few years short of its sesquicentennial anniversary be justifiably a military hospital itself.

What began as a 60-bed hospital in 1870 in erstwhile Calcutta, the first military hospital in India is now a 760-bed tertiary-care, super-speciality hospital of eastern India in present day Kolkata as Command Hospital (Eastern Command). It serves the needs for serving soldiers, veterans, their families and dependent parents from all the states of the North East, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkand and the Andaman & Nicobar islands. 

Command Hospital (EC) has emerged as an institute of excellence in the Indian Armed Forces and is also a referral centre for the paramilitary forces serving in the north east as well as for the personnel of the Royal Bhutan Army. Recently patients from the Bangladesh armed forces have also started arriving here for specialized treatment fostering mutual ties between the two nations.

With its wide and ever increasing beneficiaries, excellence is relentlessly pursued here to provide the best possible quality medical care to the patients. Leading the endeavor to meet the expectations of the clientele, Hospital Commandant, Major General B.N.B.M. Prasad and his medical team live their avowed motto of rendering personalized, promotive, preventive and participatory health care for all.

The hospital has put in place several proactive measures to improve medical care, nursing, ambience, living conditions and diet of the patients. To fine tune the skills and update knowledge of healthcare professionals in this era of fast scientific developments, the hospital regularly conducts medical seminars and workshops besides publishing health education manuals.

All complex critical cases presenting to the Command Hospital (EC) are discussed threadbare among all specialists and super specialists and the best possible care is provided holistically. Few recent discussions have been exhaustively compiled into a book ‘Critical Care Clinics of Command Hospital (Eastern Command)’, which was released by Director General Armed Forces Medical Services, Air Marshal DP Joshi, recently.

Another publication on ‘Accident & Emergency Medicine Protocols' by the hospital is aimed at improving standards and competencies in accident and emergency care. These books immensely benefit all doctors especially those caring for the critically ill.  The medical workshops conducted here towards 'Continuing Medical Education' programme are attended by delegates and eminent faculty from reputed institutes such as PGIMER, Chandigarh, All India Institute of Medical Sciences besides others from various prestigious institutions of the Armed Forces from all over India.

In the sprawling hospital complex, a Rs. 36.32 crore project to transform existing facilities with world-class infrastructure for a multi-speciality hospital to be functional by 2016 is currently underway. It includes an additional six-storey building to its already existing multi-storey hospital complex built four decades ago. Besides doubling the operation theatres (OT), speciaility centres for neuroscience, oncology, hematology, cardiology, cardiothoracic and vascular surgery, catheterization laboratory with two additional OT for cardiothoracic surgery will be housed in the new complex.

PET scan centre, assisted reproductive technology centre, liquid oxygen plant and cardiothoracic centre are also in the pipeline. A state of the art critical care ambulance fitted with the latest life saving equipment such as  ventilator, defibrillator, monitors, infusion pumps and single-man operated  patient loading system has been specially developed for the management of critically ill patients during transportation to the hospital.

The quick response medical team of the hospital termed 'Code Blue' can be called by anyone, anytime and anywhere in the hospital premises has been instrumental in providing life saving resuscitation to patients at Command Hospital (EC).

A 20-bed 'Day Care Centre' where cancer patients undergo treatment without having to remain in the hospital beyond daylight hours mitigate the sufferings of patients without the need to stay away from their families.

Many procedures recently carried out in the hospital have been pioneering procedures in the Indian Armed Forces. Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty, a procedure of eye cornea transplant is one such procedure. Also the eyebrow, eyelid and eyelash transplantation done for eyelash leucotrichia, a disease leading to white eyelashes is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. 
A few complex medical and surgical procedures that saved lives of innumerable armed forces personnel who were evacuated from far flung areas can only be deemed as medical miracles.

Recently two serving soldiers were air dashed from a high altitude post in the north east suffering from life threatening pulmonary embolism. It was the prompt treatment with clot busting medicines provided by the medical team led by Commandant, Maj Gen Prasad, an eminent and nationally acclaimed respiratory physician that saved their lives.
In yet another case, a retired soldier presented himself with severe agonizing headache having no relief with medications. He was detected with an aneurysm in the brain, a ballooned out condition with weak and dilated artery having potential of rupture and catastrophic brain hemorrhage. The aneurysm was also at an unusual location at the base of brain. It showed signs of impending rupture with minor blood leaks to brain and imminent death loomed large.

Urgent surgery to clip the aneurysm was the only option but it was also associated with significant mortality since the aneurysm was surrounded by vital structures. Surgical approach was extremely difficult requiring a very high degree of skill of the neurosurgical team. A competent and confident team of neurosurgeons and anesthesiologists ventured to perform the risky surgery and saved his life. The recovery was total and complete without any neurological deficit. 

            The continued endeavour to achieve excellence in quality health care with selfless service to patients with its motto of competence of the highest order, holistic approach to life and compassionate care has lead to Command Hospital (EC) being aptly nicknamed the 'Healers of the East'.

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