THE MAJOR problem facing PGIMER is the huge crowd and congestion, the institute’s director, Prof Yogesh Chawla, said on Thursday, the last day of his five-year tenure. He claimed that the research activities of the institute were getting affected due to the huge burden on the faculty members. Chawla, whose tenure was mired in several controversies, for the first time talked extensively during a select media interaction on various issues which left him in a tight spot during his tenure as the institute’s director.
“The main problem at PGI is congestion and crowd. We tried all aspects, but it is the brand value of this institute which keeps on getting more and more people. I only wish that the surrounding medical colleges and hospitals take some burden out of us,” he said. The PGI director listed 75 achievements of his tenure. From Friday, he will go back to the department of Hepatology, since 11 months of his service is still left. “Not much interest in continuing as director for 11 more months. I thought getting amongst patients would be more rewarding,” he said.
Chawla said that he had a “good experience and was fairly satisfied” and every day was a challenge for him. Talking about the “bitter” experiences during his tenure, he said that his unpleasant time was when people came out to demand things which were not under his control. “I wanted to do everything. But there were some things which were not under my control. That was the period which was not pleasant,” he said, adding that “engineering things” were not under his control.
As for research activities, he said, “If you are working from 8 in the morning till 7 in the evening and even beyond that, it [research activity] does get affected. In the West, research is good, because they get time for research. Can we afford to give people time for research? If you give time off for research who will handle the rush. Then OPDs will work till 12 clock.” He, however, added that PGI was doing good in research.
Chawla maintained that to lessen the rush, referring back the patients could be a good suggestion. “We have recently spoken and written to the hospitals at least as far as neonates are concerned. If that works well, we could adopt it for adults as well in other specialties. Auditing patients coming from which area and how they are referred could be another way,” he said. On why he didn’t inform the ministry that his daughter and son-in-law were appearing in PGI interviews which led to a controversy, he said, “I recused myself for the entire interview. I asked so many people about it and nobody said like this. People gave examples about interviews that happen in judiciary and other places. I don’t think it happens everywhere. It was just because of people didn’t like me. They made it a big issue,” he said.
He added, “It means that director’s child shouldn’t apply in the institute, should not work here. So if you want to became a director, forget about your children. Even if they are good, tell them to stay away from PGI.” Talking about PGI medical superintendent Dr Anil Gupta’s leave controversy, the PGI director said that “it is how you interpret it”. “Controversy has to come during the five-year tenure. This is one of those controversies. But it was not made purposely and it was done with a clean heart,” he said.
Asked if he was wrongly advised by the administration on the MS issue, he said, “I have to take his (Deputy Director Adminstration) advice because I am not trained for that. They have a proper training.” For the air conditioning of new OPD, he said it was a “big challenge getting AC of an area where you have 10,000 patients coming to the OPD”. “We have now plans for it. The next modality is where to shift these patients. We have planned one entire wing of OPD to shift to temporary structure outside or we move to cardiology or other side.”
Asked how difficult it was to be a PGI director, he said, “It has been a difficult place. My family has compromised, my profession has compromised… Being a director, I have lost so many things.” On suggestions for the new director, Chawla said, “Maybe he has new ideas. Getting the neuro centre, mother and newborn centre would further enhance the image of PGI. Geriatric centre could be the biggest gift. National transplant institute and chronic rehabilitation centre is also being planned,” he stated.