Finding your way around the sprawling All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will now be easier. The institute is undergoing a comprehensive makeover that is expected to double the patient capacity while making it easier for people to negotiate the main hospital and its many speciality centres.
The grand redevelopment plans include the setting up of 12 new super-speciality centres on 32 acres of AIIMS land partly reclaimed by covering an open drain that runs behind the institute from the Ring Road to Masjid Moth. "We hope to utilise land earmarked for residential use to expand hospital services. Letters to the Ministry for Urban Development and the DDA have been sent requesting them to convert land use from residential to institutional so that the medical facilities can be expanded quickly," says AIIMS Director Dr P Venugopal.
While the new-look AIIMS will become functional only by 2015, work has already begun to decongest the main hospital by setting up independent speciality centres in close proximity to each other. The Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, Cardio-Neuro Tower, Trauma Centre, Pet-scan unit and a 117-bed new private ward are already either fully or partly functional. Two other centres - the dental centre and the in-vitro fertilisation facility- are expected to become functional by the end of this year.
Instead of hobbling around the campus getting redirected from one department to another, patients are already finding it easier to identify the distinct centres and go there directly for treatment. "My mother has breast cancer and we go to the Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital directly. Everyone there knows what is going on in which room, so getting a doctor to treat her does not take time," says Anil Chaurasia, a shopkeeper from Kanpur, who has been camping in Delhi for two weeks for his mother's treatment.
Over 7,000 patients accompanied by family and attendants visit the hospital's Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur out-patient department (OPD) each day, making the hospital look like a busy railway platform. Apart from patients standing in queues for hours waiting for overworked doctors to examine them, the families of those occupying the 2,015 beds in the hospital spill out of rooms and wards on to the corridors, roads and sidewalks. For many harried families who accompany patients from other states, the campus' many parks and sidewalks become temporary homes for weeks.
"The streamlining of services and rationalisation of space will decongest the hospital and make it more patient-friendly," says Venugopal. The new speciality centres will further decongest the general OPD. "Already, over 1,000 patients visit the newly set-up OPD for the departments of medicine and paediatrics, which has taken the load off the main OPD," says Venugopal. An air-conditioned wait room and a 100-bed dharamshala for the patients' families have also been opened to make the wait comfortable.
The grand plan - called AIIMS Vision 2015 - involves a makeover that will make the hospital unrecognisable. To begin with, the main entrance of the institute will be shifted to the Ring Road, with a four-lane road built over the drain leading patients into the institute. Work to cover the drain is already underway. It is expected to be functional by the end of 2007. A multi-level car park next to the new gate will further decongest the campus.
"By covering the drain and reclaiming the area, the institute has gained five acres of land that was wasted before. The road will feed the old campus and the twelve new speciality centres coming up behind the dental centre," says Venugopal.
The additional twelve speciality centres-mother and child care, geriatrics, molecular medicine, paediatric surgery, among others -have been approved by the AIIMS governing and institute bodies and are also expected to be functional by 2015.