Dr JN Pande, eminent chest specialist, loses Covid battle
Dr Jitendra Nath Pande, former head of the department of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), died on Friday night with coronavirus disease (Covid-19). He was 78.
His colleagues and students remember him as an encyclopaedia of medicine, pioneer of critical care in northern India, as well as a dedicated doctor and teacher.
As a professor, he used to reach the wards for the morning round to check-in on all the admitted patients before his students. “He would be there at 7.30am every day. We were supposed to reach the wards at 8am, check on the patients and report to him,” said Dr Anoop Misra, one of his students, and now the chairman of Fortis C-DOC centre of excellence for diabetes, metabolic diseases and endocrinology.
“There were times when he would look at a patient and give a diagnosis in minutes,” he said.
Even after becoming a doctor in his own right, when Dr Misra was unsure of any treatment course or trouble with diagnosis, he consulted Dr Pande.
Dr Pande was also one of the first to establish intensive care units (ICU) in northern India. “It is a great loss to the entire medical fraternity. He helped set up one of the first ICUs in the country. Many of the current leading intensive care experts have trained under him,” said Dr Ashok Kumar, who studied under Dr Pande as an MBBS and post-graduate student. He is currently working as director of rheumatology department at Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj.
The Supreme Court referred to Dr Pande’s team’s study on ‘Outdoor air pollution and emergency room visits at a hospital in Delhi’ in its 1997-98 judgment banning diesel buses in the Capital.
“Sometimes, when we asked him a question, he would reply with the exact page number and table we should refer to,” Dr Kumar said.
Dr GC Khilnani, former head of the department of pulmonary medicine at AIIMS, said, “He was born to a family of teachers, he was my mentor and one of the greatest teachers I know. At that time, many chose to go abroad and practice medicine but he remained at AIIMS right from his graduation to superannuation.”
Dr Pande was still practising medicine, consulting about 50 patients a day at Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research in New Delhi.