'A victim of its own popularity' as its top functionaries say, the Chandigarh based Post Graduate Institute of Medical and Research (PGIMER) has come up with an elaborate plan to extend its campus in a way that it helps filter the high footfall. The new initiative being envisaged for the institute that caters to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttarakhand and also Uttar Pradesh will help improve its focus on research while focusing more on referral patients.

But while the PGIMER battles the waves of patients landing at its footsteps daily, it also points to the failure of the other regional medical centres to address the public concerns at their level so that most of the patients do not have to rush to Chandigarh. Despite the central government announcing an All India Institute for Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for almost every state, the authorities at the PGIMER say that they cannot afford to be lax and insist on updating their facilities, infrastructure and research.

With a fresh 50 acres of land at its disposal at the nearby village of Sarangpur, the authorities want to shift the out patients departments (OPDs) and the trauma centre away from the present location to this area. Apart from this, there is a plan to start a new centre for cancer treatment and a learning resource centre to train doctors from the neighbouring states so that they can return home as experts and help reduce the burden of the PGIMER by providing expert treatment at the local and regional levels.

PGIMER's director Dr Jagat Ram says the location of the OPDs away from the main facility will help filter the patients who need advanced care. As of now the institute is witnessing a daily footfall of almost 19,000 people including patients and attendants. Majority of the cases are such that can be taken care of at the district or regional medical centres. This filtering of patients will help the experts focus more on those needing advanced care who can be admitted to the main facility. This model can help many such medical institutions working under tremendous pressure and will lead to a much organized and productive healthcare system.

"This new system will act like a filter for us. Approximately 70 per cent of the patients will be filtered at this level. This will improve the efficiency of the doctors at every level and save the main hospital from the flood of the patients," said Dr Jagat Ram. He underlined that the shifting of the trauma centre to Sarangpur will pave the way for an extension of the emergency ward in the main facility as there will be space available for 200 more beds. At present one can see patients being treated while lie on stretcher trolleys as there is tremendous shortage of beds in the emergency.

“Though this plan was in the pipeline for about two years, it is only now that we have obtained a consensus from the majority of the departments on how to make the best use of the new piece of land now available with us,” said the director.

The deputy director of the institute Dr Amitabh Avasthi told The Citizen, “ After these four facilities come up at the new location, there are plans to build a geriatric and organ transplant centres at the space available in the main facility.”

The extension at Sarangpur located two kilometres away will be linked to the main facility through either a flyover or a subway. The construction of the new OPD facility alone would cost around Rs 1000 crore. The road map is being prepared. A visit to the institution is enough to convince one that the government needs to pump more into public sector health care because the masses cannot afford the treatment at the 'five star' private hospitals that are mushrooming all over.