COVID-19:Meet the man behind Kerala’s public health infrastructure


“The most important subject, in the current times, is public health,” says Dr PGR Pillai, who helped lay the basis of Kerala’s medical infrastructure. “I introduced a course on this along with eight other allied ones, at the School of Medical Education in Kottayam in 1994-95,. For every doctor, we need five support medical staff, such as nurse, lab technician, pharmaceutical expert and such. With the introduction of such courses, we could create an entire workforce to support the medical fraternity.”

As the man behind Kerala’s sturdy public health infrastructure, who arrange 9 medical college-hospitals and allied companies, 80-year-old Dr. Pillai can take a bow, together with frontline health staff and stakeholders as Kerala flattens the curve of an infection at the same time as remainder of the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic. “It may be something of a record because I think after setting up two (medical institutions), a person would get very tired,” he says with wry humour. Now retired and settled in Kottayam, Dr. Pillai, who graduated from the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, in 1962 and did his Masters in General Surgery from Lucknow, is actively concerned in a number of social initiatives.

Kerala’s public health infrastructure has been one in every of the State’s most fascinating success tales. It not solely imparts a top quality of healthcare to its folks, produces top-of-the-line medical doctors, health staff, and facilitates medical tourism to the State however has additionally come out in flying colors on this medical emergency.

Setting up a school

“I had been the medical superintendent of Government Medical College, for eight years when I was drafted, in 1991, to set up the medical college at Pariyaram in Kannur. Till then, the State’s medical organisation consisted of the five government colleges at Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, and Alappuzha. This was the first ‘non-mainstream’ hospital constructed under the cooperative sector in India. I was the founding principal and even organised requisites such as permitsfor construction,” he recollects. Now a 12-storey construction, the Pariyaram Medical College Hospital is the largest in Kerala with 1200 beds and conducts super-speciality programs together with the common MBBS diploma.

Dr Pillai’s subsequent venture as Medical Director of MG University was to discovered the School of Medical Education in Kottayam that offered, for the first time in India, eight under-graduate and postgraduate programs — Public Health, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Lab expertise, Medical Radiology, Microbiology, Hospital administration, Bio-Medical Engineering, Sports Medicine and Optometry — in Allied Medical Sciences.

After this, Dr Pillai was deputed to set-up one other medical faculty in Kochi in 2000. As founder-principal, he started work from scratch buying land, finalising the architectural design, recruiting the educating employees, getting clearances from the Indian Medical Council and extra. “We acquired 65 acres of land in the heart of the city. I remember getting avenue trees planted,” says Dr Pillai, proud that at present the hospital is the predominant centre for COVID-19 sufferers and is preventing the pandemic.

Given Dr Pillai’s experience in organising college-hospitals, he was given a five-year extension when he turned 60. After a brief stint with the non-public Jubilee Medical College in Thrissur, which he transformed right into a full-fledged medical faculty, Dr Pillai was tasked with a significant venture of organising 4 extra medical faculties in the state: at Manjeri, Kasaragod, Idukki and at Konni in Pathanamthitta. He was additionally concerned in the organising of Paripalli Medical College (Kollam), a brand new medical faculty at General Hospital campus Thiruvananthapuram and at Haripad.

“All the four were on government land, so land acquisition was not an issue,” says Pillai including that the guidelines concerning the founding of medical faculties too had modified. “Earlier a 1200-bed hospital could come up on 100 acres and a 500-bed hospital on 50 acres. Now it has been scaled down to 300 beds on 20 acres. These rules are different for the seven metro cities, Andamans and North East region,” says Pillai.

Of the 4, the faculty at Manjeri opened in 2013 and the Paripalli Medical College was inaugurated in 2017. Admissions have begun at the Idukki College and work is beneath approach at Konni. But the Kasaragod Medical College Hospital is now witnessing its most interesting hour, even earlier than the scheduled inauguration in September. It has opened its doorways for therapy of sufferers with COVID-19.

Close to his coronary heart

One of his most distinguishing works and the closest to his coronary heart was organising the most cancers centre in the Kottayam Medical College campus. “This was unique as it is built completely on public funds,” says Dr Pillai who raised funds for the 150-bed facility together with the successive district collectors – KJ Alphonse Kannanthanam, Sheela Thomas and Sajan Peter. .

Dr Pillai is the present chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Kottayam), Cancer Society and Lilly School for Disabled Students.

The journey has not been simple and Dr Pillai has needed to face many troubles. “Many roadblocks and very many questions were asked. There were long hours of waiting in corridors of power to get clearances…. It’s been a Herculean task but I feel some good has been done for society. It’s a contribution to history,” says Dr Pillai including that the look on the faces of oldsters and youngsters as soon as they get admission is unforgettable. “This has been God’s blessings, I must say.”

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