A visit to Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR)
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]RIVE a few kilometers from the Central Jail Dimapur towards Diphu River through an unsavory road where dust will provide a good company and you will soon reach the main entrance to the CIHSR from where you will see the complex looming large at a distance. As you enter the gate to the institution, you are likely to be greeted by a watchman who will be either taking an afternoon siesta or embroiled in conversation with someone but oblivious of your presence. The expanse of fallow land that is partially covered with hatches and shrubs spreading on both sides of the lane leading to the main building will give an impression that you are approaching an agricultural institution, rather than a health institution.
The building inside the institution is designed in such a way that the façade of the building consisting of different blocks that are almost identical to each other will confuse visitors in locating the main entrance to the building unless assistance is sought. The moment you land up at the crowded registration counter, you may be amazed to find a disciplined crowd receiving orders from a uniform staff standing nonchalantly at rear and shouting at the top of his voice repeating, “tomar khan sob Q te khara koribe”, virtually reminiscence of a scene of an army recruitment rally.
The registration fee is only Rs. 50 per head, presumably an affordable fee that perhaps have so far not affected by the inflation epidemics that is ravaging the entire country today. Amidst ever smiling nurses around who are ready to assist you, one will feel a sense of assurance that help is not too far away.
The CIHSR some years ago took over the charge of the virtually paralyzed Referral Hospital Project which was started some decades ago with an ambitious plan of constructing a 500 bedded Hospital to be subsequently converted into a medical college.
However this dream project that has raised more questions than answers subsequently flopped in the process as a result of mismanagement. Finally the present institution that is a joint venture of three organizations viz: the Emmanuel Hospital Association, Christian Medical Colleges of Ludhiana and Vellore and the Government of Nagaland took over this sick project where Government had already spent huge amount. Hopefully the present institution has succeeded in overcoming its initial birth bang and now embark upon realizing its vision of establishing a Christ Centered Health Care Hospital with a logo of Serve, Nurture and Transform. Presently it is a 180 bedded Hospital with a plan of reaching a target of 500 in due course. The Hospital is equipped with almost all the major Departments except the Department of Radiology where steps are being taken to start this Department soon. Around 250 staff that include doctors and some specialists are deployed here and their pays and allowances are eked out of the income received by the services provided by them to the patients.
During the course of conversations with one of the senior most doctors of this Hospital, I was told that her pay and allowances are equivalent only to the pay and allowances of a medical officer of a government hospital though she is not complaining about it. She said, “If we think only about personal gain, here there is nothing to gain. That is why many doctors are not interested to work here”. I then asked about her joys and rewards of working here to which she spontaneously replied with an assured smile, “If my Lord calls me today and ask me whether I am happy and satisfied with my work at CIHSR, I will gladly reply, yes Lord I am happy and satisfied with my work here in serving the people. I will also say I have not wasted my time”. Her comment, a blending of dignity and pathos, could easily evoke a sense of inspiration and respect to many.
I was told that it is the policy of the Government to consider opening of Medical Colleges only in the State run Hospitals but not in an institution under private sector such as CIHSR. This may be a laid down procedural requirement but not necessarily a regulation that needs to be sacrosanct. To my view this rigid approach of the Government is impractical as well as unattainable as far as our State is concerned. To consider only State run District Hospitals as an eligible criteria for setting up a Medical College in Nagaland will continue to remain an illusory project for the simple reason that in the coming few years no District Hospitals at the present rate will be in a position to qualify for opening up a Medical College that will not only require sufficient land free of encumbrances but also require huge investments both in terms of materials and manpower. A classic example is the condition of the present Naga Hospital Kohima that begun its restructuring and renovation program with tremendous funfairs some decades ago but still continue to remain an issue of concern till today where the Hospital that should have been the pride of the State and the future prospect for a Medical College, is pathetically encircled by a number of private structures that are virtually threatening to strangulate the Hospital itself.
It will be premature to offer a pragmatic view on the future of CIHSR and yet one may hold with a sense of optimism that the progress of CIHSR that is gradually growing from strength to strength is encouraging and its future for further development is bright. This institution in the present Nagaland context may perhaps be the only answer, considering its infrastructure, location, connectivity and its vision for opening up the first Medical College in Nagaland. Should it be Gods will to open a College here, it will be realized sooner than later.