When I visited the Children’s Hospital of India (CHI) in Hyderabad last month, I was greeted with a grand opening ceremony and an animated presentation of the building.
It was my first time in the building and I found myself entranced.
CHI was founded in 1890 and was once one of the oldest children’s institutions in the country.
It had a long history in Hydera and has been the site of many famous medical discoveries.
But in recent years, it has been in the grip of financial crisis, and its capacity to serve the poor has come under scrutiny.
The facility has been struggling to stay afloat.
On its website, CHI says that it was founded on a promise of providing free care for the poor.
“This promise has not been kept,” says Rajesh Bhatt, a CHI executive who has spent over 30 years with the organisation.
He says that in the past five years, CHi has taken a drastic step to close its doors.
The hospital was set to be a state-run facility and it has closed, but in recent months it has begun opening a new wing, a renovated hospital.
Bhatt says the new hospital is a key part of CHI’s transformation.
“The transformation of the hospital is based on the need of the people.
In other words, the hospital needs to be open in every corner of the country and its staff and patients can have access to the best care in the most modern facilities,” he says.
“There is a huge demand for free healthcare.
It is not about financial resources, but the desire of the patients for quality care.”
The facility will soon be opened up to all of the community.
A specialised centre, which can cater to those with disabilities, is also planned.
CHi’s rehabilitation centres will also be open to the community, Bhatt adds.
“We want to take care of the children in the community and the rehabilitation centres are the most appropriate places to help the children,” he said.
Bollywood superstar Anushka Sharma has also been a big fan of the CHI.
Last year, she attended the opening ceremony, which was attended by the head of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), a major medical body.
The IMA, an association of medical professionals, has a policy on rehabilitation centres.
“I have always been a fan of CHC, I will be donating to the children’s centre,” said Anushkarma Sharma, who is married to actor Sachin Tendulkar.
“It is important for the children and I hope that the new CHC will open the doors of the rehab centre to all families.”
The CHC was founded by Sir Robert Cecil, who founded the Childrens Hospital of Oxford, in 1882.
His foundation was originally set up to provide free healthcare for children from poor families.
He later expanded his aim to include children of all social classes, including those with physical and mental disabilities.
The CHI is currently run by the Indian Government.
But as the financial crisis deepened, the organisation has had to turn to its own staff to help with the financial burden.
“In our facilities, we have been able to operate at a cost of around Rs. 1 crore.
But now, we are facing the same situation as many other hospitals across the country,” Bhatt said.
CHC’s rehabilitation centre, named ‘Sankatyam’, was recently opened up in the heart of Hyderabad.
It opened at a time when there were huge queues outside the CHC.
“People in Hyderabadi area are always waiting for hours outside hospitals, because of the financial pressure.
We need to find a way to save the CHCs,” says Bhatt.
With the help of a grant from the Government of India, the rehabilitation centre will be built on a large site.
“Our facility is equipped to handle the needs of the city.
It can cater for around 1,200 children with special needs and it is designed for all of us,” says Amit Bhatt of the Rehabilitation Centre.