Safdarjung Hospital turns 75, massive infra upgrade on cards

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NEW DELHI: The city’s Safdarjung Hospital has entered its platinum jubilee year and the administration has planned a huge infrastructure revamp, including construction of two major blocks.

The hospital started its journey in 1942 as the ‘100th Station Hospital’ and was set up for treatment of injured American soldiers of the allied forces during World War II.

“It is a matter of great pride that we have reached the platinum jubilee of this institution. And in May, we will be completing 75 years.

“A huge infrastructure upgrade will augment facilities at this overburdened hospital so that we can better serve people,” hospital’s Medical Superintendent, A K Rai said.

Situated in the heart of the city next to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), it started as a 150- bed hospital and was constructed under the supervision of Col Robert P Williams, who was General Stilwell’s staff surgeon.

Spread over 47 acres, in these seven decades, it has grown from military barracks to an over 1,500-bed hospital and offers affordable healthcare to patients streaming in from all parts of the country.

“Our Emergency and Superspecialty Block is nearing completion. There are a few logistical issues, but we hope to open it by April end. Also, once this new emergency block is ready, the old emergency (casualty) block will be demolished to make way for a new Mother and Child Block.

“And once the mother and child block shifts there, its old block will be demolished to make an orthopaedic centre. Similarly, other parts of the campus will be redeveloped in a phased manner so that patient care does not suffer and we grow along,” Rai told PTI.

Asked if there are any celebrations lined up to mark the platinum jubilee of its foundation, he said, “No funds have been earmarked” specifically for it.

“Unlike AIIMS, which is an autonomous institution, we are funded by the Centre and our priorities are healthcare and infrastructure upgrade. We do not have funds at the moment to commemorate 75 years,” he said.

AIIMS marked its diamond jubilee last year with much fanfare and a host of events were held to mark the occasion.

Purpose-built close to the city’s lone airstrip, the Willingdon Airfield (now known as Safdarjung Airport), it came to be called by people as the American Hospital and salvaged many lives during the raging war, according to archives.

After independence, the government dedicated it to the people and named it after Mughal general ‘Safdarjung’ Abul Mansur Mirza Muhammad Muqim Ali Khan, a fine connoisseur of art, culture and education.

“We have many first to our credits and the first centre for nuclear medicine started here. The first few batches of AIIMS picked up the first lessons in clinical skills here. We may not have any plans to mark the platinum jubilee, but we have indeed much to be proud of,” Rai said.

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