Pune’s KEM Hospital is set to turn 110 years old on October 4 and its management now plans to build new facilities, including new critical care centres, operation theatres and patient rooms. A new multi-storey parking building is already at the hospital.
“Many believe that the KEM is a government hospital, but it is an institution run by a public charitable trust, KEM Hospital Society. Today it has almost 600 beds, and for many years, it was the largest general hospital in Pune after Sassoon Hospital. It offers tertiary level care, has all the important specialities and is a teaching institution with a flourishing rural health centre and hospital,” Dr Farrokh Wadia, 85, a trustee of the hospital, told The Indian Express. Wadia, who pioneered nephrology services in Pune, continues to work in the hospital under the leadership of medical director Dr K J Coyaji.
Dr Madhur Rao, senior deputy medical administrator at KEM Hospital, said that substantial amounts are given as concessions across bills of underprivileged patients every month.
Dr Wadia recalled that the effort of setting up the hospital began in 1912 when a prominent local citizen Sardar Moodliar presented a piece of land and funds to create a maternity home. More funds were collected in memory of King Edward VII. By 1914, a tiny four-bed maternity home came up in Rasta Peth.
The beds increased to double the number by 1917, with another eight added by 1920. Prominent individual donors during that time included the Pudumjee family and Sir Vithaldas Thakersey. The present generations of the Moodliar and Pudumjee families are still closely associated with the hospital, Dr Wadia said.
By 1944, the hospital had 40 women’s beds and several wards. Around this time, the chief medical officer Dr Putlibai Vakil retired and the youthful Dr Banoo Coyaji came in. Her story is well known; how she had come on board as a locum for six months but stayed to guide and nurture the hospital for 55 years.
Dr Coyaji brought with her the qualities of vision, dynamism and hard work which propelled the hospital to the highest standards of care, D Wadia said. Over the next 20 years, the hospital grew and by 1967, other specialities came in and it was set on the path of becoming a general multi-specialty hospital admitting men and children too.
In the early 1970s, small intensive care and dialysis units were set up. “Our unit for several years was the only one providing dialysis services for Pune and surrounding areas,” Dr Wadia said. The early ’70s also saw innovative and pioneering changes to the field of gynaecology and obstetrics under the leadership of Dr Kurus Coyaji, establishing the KEM hospital as a referral centre for high-risk obstetrics across the state. Pioneers in the fields of surgery, paediatric surgery, anaesthesia and respiratory medicine took the hospital to new heights.
“Our benefactors came from all communities and segments of society, both from here and abroad, and gave without thought of return. This makes us feel that KEM has been truly a community hospital,” Dr Wadia said.