Harbinger of private health care in Mohali
Conceived in 1996, the Fortis is today a premium health care hospital in the private sector for those who can afford it; know the story behind its quality of care, its vision and the unique architecturepunjab Updated: Oct 30, 2017 19:26 IST
Building institutions requires a big heart and the unshakeable belief that the vision will come true. This rings true for Fortis Hospital, a facility conceived to provide quality health care to people who could afford it, way back in 1996. Now, two decades later, the hospital that only saw 10 patients in cardiac care (it was Fortis Heart Institute initially) in its first three months of operations, has now grown into a 355-bed hospital. With the patient load increasing exponentially, the number of doctors has increased from 50-odd in 2001 to over 350 now.
Founder did not live to see dream come true
The founder of Fortis Hospital, Parvinder Singh, did not live to see his dream materialise in Mohali. A cancer patient, he died in 1999, while construction was on and could not witness Fortis becoming a pioneer in health care in the tricity. Envisioned in 1996, the hospital was constructed in 18 months, with the foundation stone laid in 1999. Today, the hospital is a multi-specialty facility offering expertise in 40 major specialties. Cardiac, orthopaedics, oncology, neurosurgery and mother and child care are the primary specialties offered.
‘No one should rush to Delhi’
Dr Parvinder, widely-known and respected for his contribution to Indian pharmaceutical industry had already turned Ranbaxy, a Mohali-based, pharmaceutical company into a multinational company.
With roots in Punjab, Dr Parvinder aimed to provide integrated health care in Punjab, so that the patients are not forced to rush to Delhi. After the death of Dr Parvinder Singh, his sons Malvinder Mohan Singh and Shivinder Mohan Singh, worked to make Fortis a premiere health care institute — at a time when the Post-Graduate Institution of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) was the only prime healthcare institute in the region.
‘Wondered if it will turn into a hotel’
Even as the last 16 yearshave seen Fortis emerge as a pioneer in private health care, catering to patients from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir, and spur medical tourism, the huge infrastructure was seen an overkill at the time.
Fortis facility director, Abhijit Singh, 45, who has been working with the institute for the past 17 years, recalls, “Dr Parvinder Singh took keen interest in setting up of the hospital. When we were creating the huge infrastructure, we wondered who will visit the hospital? People said it is so huge and due to lack of patients it would become a hotel.”
Fortis chief operating officer Ashish Bhatia, 55, associated with the organisation for 16 years, says, “Fortis was conceived to provide quality health care to people who could afford it. Heart ailments were common those days, so we offered cardiac care initially and named it Fortis Heart Institute. The name was changed to Fortis Heart Institute and Multispecialty Hospital in 2003.”
‘Land bought at commercial rates, no provision for free OPD’
Dr Parvinder Singh had bought 8.22 acres from the Punjab government and the institute claims that the land was not given to it on concessional rates. It maintains the government was welcoming investment in the state. Bhatia adds, “Land was bought from PUDA at commercial rates. The conveyance deed does not contain any terms or conditions regarding provision of free OPD or IPD services/treatment to any patient by the owner of the land,” says Bhatia.
USP, challenges and opportunities
The unique selling proposition (USP) of the hospital, Bhatia adds is, “Highly-committed and talented set of clinicians backed by excellent nursing care with state-of-the art technology makes Fortis stand out. It is a premium health care institute, created for a segment of society which used to rush to Delhi or the US for intensive cardiac care.” Over the years, the hospital has added a 55-bed ‘Fortis Cancer Institute’ for medical, surgical and radiation therapies; advanced robotic technology to ensure less post-operative pain and shorter hospital stay; weight loss surgery and linac technology in cancer treatment — meaning that only cancer cells are destroyed during treatment, with surrounding healthy tissues spared, Bhatia says.
Over time, the hospital started catering to patients from Iraq, Afghanistan and various African countries.
He adds that for long, poor connectivity and lack of international flights from Chandigarh posed a challenge, yet the hospital received a ‘fair share of patients’. The start of international flights presents an opportunity as the number of overseas patients is expected to increase.
Dr Amod Gupta, former head of the department of Ophthalmology, PGIMER, says, “Fortis is a welcome addition for those who can afford the care. People who have lot of choices can choose from the options available but who can’t choose go to the government institutes.” He added, “The good thing is that former PGIMER faculty manages key departments at Fortis. These doctors are well-known and provide Fortis with a stamp of assurance. People can get exclusive care of top-class doctors.”
Desire to save mango grove dictated unique architecture
The unique architecture of the building was dictated by founder Dr Parvinder’s desire to save a mango grove on the 8.22-acre land that he had bought from the Punjab government. He requested the architects to design the hospital around the grove. So, buildings are designed in an asymmetrical manner. The architecture is such that there are connecting pathways between buildings and patients are not made to rush into lifts. There is link between the ICU and the operation theaters to save time.
Health care comes at a price
Fortis has earned a reputation of being a premium health institute. Not everyone can afford the state-of-the-art facilities. Doctors empanelled with the hospital have prior experience of working with premier medical institutions. Nurses are registered with recognised medical boards. Angiography here costs Rs 12,500; Angioplasty costs Rs 1.9 lakh, plus the cost of stent at government-prescribed rates. Total knee replacement costs Rs 2.1 lakh, plus the cost of implant at government-prescribed rates. A pacemaker implant costs Rs 90,000, plus the cost of pacemaker. At government hospitals, the above treatments cost around half as much.
1,600 people work here
Fortis started functioning with about 300 employees. Today, there are 1,600 direct employees and the management provides employment to around 3,000 people. Nurses are considered to be the backbone of the hospital.
Social responsibility schemes of the hospital
The hospital has created a Khusbhoo fund to offer discounted treatment to the underprivileged. Fortis is also associated with the Rotary Heart-line project under which discounted treatments is given to paediatric cardiac cases. “We have to be selective in providing free or discounted treatments,” Bhatia adds. Also, to encourage organ donation, the hospital had created a ‘Wall of Tribute’ in the IPD lobby. “This is meant to recognise the contribution of organ donors,” he adds.