The Army’s Western Command approached the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh last month for a formal tie-up under which the hospital would provide infrastructure, manpower and other facilities in case of “hostilities/ war scenario/ natural calamities/ disasters”.
PGIMER is north India’s premier medical hub. The hospital, with 1,948 beds, is the main tertiary care health facility for Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal, Punjab and Haryana. Chandigarh Newsline has learnt that that officials from the administration wing of Western Command Headquarters at Chandimandir approached PGIMER administration in May, and enquired about the hospital’s preparedness for emergency situations.
Sources said that the officials discussed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Army and the hospital for the provision of medical infrastructure, manpower, ambulance and hospital beds in a situation that might demand such support.
The proposed draft MoU between the hospital and Army, represented by HQ Western Command, pertains to “the provision of civil medical resources available at their disposal to augment the infrastructure, manpower, ambulances, hospital beds and specialist cover of the Army Medical Corps during outbreak of hostilities/ war scenario/ natural calamities/ disasters.”
A PGI official said the MoU would be signed soon. “The process is on and we are hoping to sign it very soon…We are in touch with the officials concerned,” said a senior PGIMER official.Days after the Army’s request, PGIMER director Jagat Ram called a meeting of the head of departments to discuss the proposed MoU.
“He informed us that in case of such a situation, the required beds and other things are to be made available for the Army. Everyone agreed to it…the Army has asked for several things in case the needs arises,” said one head of department, who was present at the meeting. “Since it was a matter of national security, all heads of department agreed that if Army needs more beds in such a situation, it would be provided.”
Public Relations Officer (PRO) and spokesperson of PGIMER Manju Wadwalkar, when contacted, told Chandigarh Newsline that “after the Army approached PGIMER, an internal meeting was called. It was discussed that the institute would provide infrastructure, and manpower in case of any disaster”.
The Public Relations Officer at Western Command told Chandigarh Newsline that he had no comment to offer.
A former Army official said the MoU was not extraordinary. He said the mapping of civilian resources and entering them into the Army’s logistics order should be done every now and then, and that such exercises had been carried out in other parts of the country.
In 2015, Chandigarh’s GMCH was also asked to sign an MOU. “We were contacted by them and we agreed. But we never heard anything from them again since then,” said Dr. A K Janmeja, officiating director principal of GMCH.