Continuing our landmark series, here is a brief history of a landmark hospital of the city:
This landmark institution began life in May 1844 as the Government Maternity Hospital. Its first home was near the Egmore railway station, facing the Cooum River. This was thanks to public subscription. The Government met the cost of the staff and the dieting of the patients. The place was run under the supervision of a committee of six medical officers who gave their services free of cost.
In 1847, the Madras Medical College instituted a professorship in Midwifery and the Government appointed the incumbent, Dr. James Shaw, as the Superintendent of the Hospital. Two new wings were added to the old building in 1852 but by the 1870s it was time to move.
Laid out in the shape of a female pelvis, the new structure came up on Pantheon Road, under the guidance of Major General G.G. Gifford, who is commemorated with a block in his name on the campus. The new hospital was completed in 1881 in Egmore and by 1900 had expanded to five blocks with a total of 140 beds. The hospital was to be headed by several noted medical practitioners among whom was Lt. Col. A.M. Branfoot who in March 1886 successfully saw the imprisoned ex-Queen of Burma – Supayalat – through a difficult delivery.
The Maternity Hospital, or MH as it came to be known, was the only one of its kind in this part of India for several decades. It was in that capacity that it hosted the first All-India Obstetrics and Gynaecological Congress in 1936. The venue was the Museum Theatre and inaugurating it was Dr. Ida Scudder of CMC Vellore, with Dr. Sir A. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar in the chair. He was also the first Indian to be the Superintendent of the MH, occupying the post between 1939 and 1942. It was to be 1984, however, before a woman came to head the institution, the first one being Dr. Lokasundari Selvaraj.
A children’s ward came up in the hospital in 1949 with 28 beds. In 1963, the Government sanctioned a separate hospital for children and this came up in the Arni House compound. When completed, this became the Government Children’s Hospital, with 250 beds.
The hospital became a teaching centre with postgraduate and diploma courses in 1930 under the Madras Medical College. In 1952, it became one of three postgraduate institutes of Madras city, and that marked the beginning of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the MH. Dr. R.K.K. Thampan was the first Director.
The hospital is today a recognised centre of excellence and delivers around 22,000 babies annually.
Here are some more landmarks: