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Appreciating a modern medical institute of south India
It was a rewarding trip to Chennai which is slowly emerging as a national medical care hub, where options and technical facilities for prevention and treatment of various diseases attract people. The south Indian city on the banks of Bay of Bengal offers medical opportunities for both high profile individuals to down trodden families across India.

The last addition to the healthcare scenario surfaced as the SIMS Hospital where one can see thousands of Indian patients along with their attendants and hundreds of foreign nationals. The acronym SIMS stands for SRM Institute for Medical Science, which carries the legacy of the SRM group that believes in quality and perfection.

The group's excellence has touched a multitude of domains including engineering, medical education, infotainment, hospitality & transport etc. Its success story was scripted by Dr TR Pachamuthu, the visionary founder of the group with Nightingale School and Valliammal Polytechnic. Soon Ravi Pachamoothoo, the founder's son took the lead and the group's growth was manifested with SRM University, SRM Medical College Hospital & Research Centres, SRM Transport Private Ltd, SRM Hotels, SRM Cements, SRM Civil Works Pvt Ltd, Ready Mix Concretes (RMC) etc.

The SIMS Hospital today maintains all major multi-super specialties with a world class multi organ transplant facility. It adopts an institute based approach to shape a robust healthcare delivery framework.

The hospital is home to a number of dedicated institutions each addressing a specific specialty like Cardiology, Neurology, Ortho, Gastro, Cosmetic Sciences, Oncology, Gynecology, Obstetrics, Anesthesiology etc. Some other specialty services include ENT, CCU, Chest Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Diabetology, Neonatology and Psychiatrics.

Spread across an expansive 230000 square feet, the institution with 345 beds delivers quality healthcare leveraging the expertise of the finest clinical talent drawn from different parts of the world. All the specialty institutions attached to SIMS are operated on a unique model comprising sub specialized ICUs. Those are equipped with futuristic infrastructure and top end medical expertise, which are manned by highly skilled paramedics and technicians.

SIMS now creates larger footprints across the healthcare delivery spectrum thanks to initiative taken by  SRM group chairman Ravi Pachamoothoo. A master strategist managing the group's vital corporate functions Ravi is credited with innovating the concept called Hello Doctor, which is aimed at patients who are immobile yet not in need of hospitalization.

"Such patients can avail quality health & wellness services at home just by dialing the Hello Doctor wing at SIMS. The unit responds by dispatching a doctor-nurse team along with a fully equipped medical kit to the patient's home," said Pachamoothoo during a interactive session with a group of journalists from northeast India recently.

SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre at Kattankulathur locality of Chennai is a fine example of Pachamoothoo's commitment to social causes as well. The 1600 bed facility replete with state-of-the-art medical equipment, cumulative expertise of over 700 doctors pertaining to various disciplines and a service centric motto caters to the healthcare needs of the entire rural localities in and around Chengalpettu.

"Making world class healthcare facility accessible to all including the lowest stratum of the society is my biggest achievement. Right from my younger days, I was keen to traverse the entire length & breadth of the larger business landscape and shape SRM into a formidable conglomerate. After all this success and expansive growth I can proudly state that healthcare sector remains very close to my heart," he added.

With the increasing number of cases relating to gastroenteritis, the SIMS Institute of Gastroenterology comes up with various options for treating ailments liked to stomach, intestine, liver and pancreas. Modern technology including endoscopy and imaging are being used for diagnose and subsequent treatment of patients.

Using endoscopic ultrasound the treatment for a variety of conditions that previously required surgery became a possibility. Among the diseases that the institute treats with minimally invasive techniques include achalasia cardia (swallowing difficulty), bile duct stones or cancer (obstructive jaundice), recurrent pancreatitis due to narrowing or abnormal positions of the pancreatic duct, pancreatic pseudocysts, leaks of biliary & pancreatic duct and stenting & bypass for a variety of tumors in the stomach, intestine, bile ducts.

Live patients are treated with a combination of various modes of treatment, including liver transplantation. Above all, the institute offers a comprehensive treatment in which medical, surgical, radiological and other options are optimally combined to offer the best patient options for quick palliation and recovery.

On the other hand, the department of Surgical Gastroenterology at SIMS hospital Chennai offers treatments to patients with complicated  problems of the gastrointestinal tract.  The department encourages day care laparoscopic surgery, abdominal wall repair for giant ventral hernia  and surgery for portal hypertension, acute & chronic pancreatitis.

"We specialize in treating patients with cancer of the gall bladder and bile duct. Stones in the pancreas are another one of our special interest areas in addition to treating cancer of the pancreas. We have a large experience in treating patients with vomiting of blood (Hemetemsis) and passing blood in the motion (Hematochezia)," said Dr Patta Radhakrishna, the director & senior consultant of the department.

Formerly worked in AIIMS, Dr Radhakrishna also added that they perform laparoscopic colo-rectal surgery for ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis and mainly cancer of the colon and rectum. We do care for patients with anal fissures, fistulae & piles and treat them with the latest techniques and gadgetry.

"We have state of the world CT and MRI scanners, a world class laboratory services and excellent allied specialists like pulmonologists, Intensive care specialists, infectious diseases specialists and so on with whose help we achieve the best of results," the experienced surgeon claimed.

The cardiac surgery team in SIMS is headed by renowned aortic surgeon Dr VV Bashi.  The team comprising Dr Aju Jacob (chief cardiac anesthetist) with cardiac surgeons namely Dr Mohammed Idrees, Dr Mukesh and Dr Ruben go for routine cardiac surgery as well as off pump cardiac surgery (a high risk operation where the heart is supported on a cardio pulmonary bypass machine), mitral valve repair, redo cardiac surgery and aortic surgery.

Director of OBGY & IVF, Dr PM Gopinath reveals the success rate of the hospital in various pregnancy care, complete gynecology services, infertility services, ovulation induction, follicular monitoring, fertility preservation, semen analysis, advanced sperm function test, embryo cryopreservation,  oocyte donor services, gestational surrogacy etc.

Neuro-surgeon Dr KR Suresh Bapu stated that a team of highly qualified neurologists, neurosurgeons, interventional neuro-radiologist and allied disciplines provide the best possible care for patients. Experienced and expert team of doctors with latest technology in SIMS helps providing a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary care for disorders of brain & spine.

Similarly, uro-surgeon Dr V  Muthuveeramani claimed that the hospital helps patients with renal ailments to reclaim normal life. Highly experienced team in the hospital is fully capable of addressing every kind of nephrological & urological disease at any stage.

"SIMS Hospital has a 26 bedded modern dialysis unit – one of the largest in the city with best in class infection control practices. We provide 24×7 dialysis services which include all forms of renal replacement therapy techniques," said senior nephrologist Dr Ram Probahor.

The institute for Oncology at SIMS Hospital provides treatment through the combination of knowledge, experience, expertise, modern technologies for the benefit of cancer patients. At the same time, the plastic surgery unit  deals with defect, deformity and disability correction. The aim of this specialty, where innovation plays a major role, is to restore form and function.

SIMS has an exclusive international patients' wing which caters to the needs of those coming from outside India. A comprehensive platform is deployed to address the requirements of the foreign patients. Right from airport transfers and accommodation provision to fixing up appointments and facilitating healthcare delivery, everything is executed on an integrated format," said Dr Raju Sivasamy, vice-president (medical services) of the hospital.

Additional services like customized F&B options, insurance facilitation, claim management, concierge support and language translation are offered to international patients as value additions, added senior manager (healthcare services) SR Sugumaran to the visiting journalists, who were channelized by the hospital's Guwahati based HCS manager Binay Hatikakoty.

(The author is a health journalist based in India's Northeast.)

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