APN News

  • Sunday, July, 2024| Today's Market | Current Time: 05:13:25
  • By Manish Desai

    ‘Hrithik Roshan, a gallant officer of the Indian Army and a much reformed gentleman, emerges out of the hospital and walks straight into the waiting arms of Priety Zinta.’ This is the closing scene of 2004 Farhan Akhtar film ‘Lakshya’. But, what is making news today, is the hospital from which Hrithik Roshan emerged after recuperating from the  ‘wounds suffered during the Kargil conflict. ‘

    INHS Asvini, the tertiary care teaching hospital of the Indian Navy moved into the Diamond Jubilee year on September 18.  It is the oldest and the largest hospital of the armed forces. Though the INHS Asvini is celebrating the   diamond jubilee of its commissioning in the Indian Navy, the hospital itself has been there for over two centuries, providing medical care to the Mumbai Garrison.

    Located in Colaba, the southern  most tip of  Mumbai city, Asvini is housed in a set of heritage buildings tucked amidst verdant foliage. The journey began in 1756 when it started functioning in barracks as King’s Seamen Hospital for in-patients. Later, it was amalgamated with the Sepoy Hospital for Indian soldiers. The hospital was handed over to the Army in 1863 and remained with it even after India became free of the British rule. It was then known as the Military Hospital, Colaba.

    On September 18, 1951, It was commissioned as the first shore hospital of the Indian Navy and was named INHS (Indian Naval Hospital Ship) Asvini, after the twin Asvini Kumars of Hindu mythology who are credited with unmatched knowledge and skills in medicine.

    As the years passed by ,bed strength of INHS Asvini increased from 300 to 600 in 1966 and to 792 in 1976.  In January 1977, Asvini was classified as a Command Hospital with a bed strength of 825.  Other Command Hospitals of the Indian Armed Forces are located in Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Chandigarh (Chandimandir) and Udhampur.

    Till the early 90s even though the hospital grew in size and capability, no concerted effort had been made to create suitable infrastructure for this flagship hospital of the Indian Navy. In May 1992 the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs accorded approval for the modernization plans at an over all cost of Rs 136 crores.

    In 1996, work started on the construction of a new building, while restoring the Heritage buildings to their pristine glory. The new building site was adjacent to the existing hospital,  and due to Herculean efforts of the hospital staff, patient care was never compromised while the construction of the buildings and the subsequent shift to the new buildings took place.

    New ICU unit was set up, the number of Critical Care beds was increased, centrally air conditioned operation theatres were commissioned as part of the modernization plan. A full fledged Cardiothoracic Centre, Radio Therapy unit, Invitro Fertilization unit were also added along with advanced CT Scan and MRI imaging equipment.  A modern mechanical laundry replaced the earlier systems of manual washing by dhobies.  In place of multiple spread out kitchens a central composite kitchen with all modern gadgets was set up to meet the special needs of the patients.  Over the years, INHS Asvini grew from strength to strength with many facilities and departments being added.

    In addition to providing state-of-the-art medical care, the hospital is also a teaching institution of repute, recognized by the University of Mumbai for Post-Graduate courses in all major medical and surgical disciplines. Training schools for nursing and para-medical staff are also run at INHS Asvini.  Training is coordinated by the Institute of Naval Medicine (INM), which is the only institute in the country to conduct medical research related to divers, submariners and naval aviators. The INM has a diving chamber complex where simulated dives are carried out for research purposes.

    While INHS Asvini is primarily a hospital for defence personnel and their families, it does its bit of public service whenever the opportunity arises.   The service it rendered during the Gujarat earthquake must find a special mention.  Military was the first to reach and surgical teams from INHS Asvini reached Kutch within 6 hours of the disaster.  They set up camp in the worst affected areas, treating the injured victims. The teams were even able to perform some caesarean operations in Kutch.  Later, the hospital set up a special 100 bed wing for quake victims, who were shipped in by naval warships from the most distant areas like Kandla. INHS rising to occasion was not unusual as a defence observer remarked “although all hospitals are supposed to have  disaster management cells, the military ones take this responsibility very seriously, as they know the importance of being prepared at all times.”

    INHS Asvini today is a large 825 bed hospital with state-of-the-art treatment facilities, blending corporate sophistication with the culture of care and nurture traditional to a service hospital.  Over the years, this iconic multi-speciality centre, commanded by Surgeon Rear Admiral KK Singh, has evolved into one of the finest hospitals in the city of Mumbai and become a shining jewel of the Armed Forces Medical Service.


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