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Coordinates: 0°0′0″N 0°0′0″E 0, 0


Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital

  • Location & Contact Information
    • Address, Directions, & Map:
      • Acharya Donde Marg, Parel, Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra, India
    • Telephone Numbers:
      • 91-22-2413 6051
      • 91-22-2414 3435 (fax)
    • Official Website: [1]
  • History & Memorable Moments

In 1907, under the Police Charges Act, the work of medical relief within the city of Bombay was entrusted to the Municipal Corporation. In 1909, an ad hoc committee of the corporation decided that the time had come for the provision of a fully equipped hospital to meet the growing needs of the north of the island. On 6 May 1910, Edward VII died. He had visited India as Prince of Wales in 1876. The people of the Presidency raised a fund to build a hospital in memory of the late king. The secretaries of the memorial committee asked the Municipal Corporation to use the fund (Rs 575,000) for building the proposed hospital. The Government of Bombay donated 50,000 square yards of land on the estate of the Government House at Parel. (Till then, this former residence of the Governor of Bombay housed the Bombay Bacteriological Laboratory-later to become the Haffkine Institute.) [1]

About that time, Sir Pherozshah Mehta, Sir Chimanlal Setalvad and Sir Narayan Chandavarkar helped settle a dispute among the successors of Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas of the Mulji Jetha family. As a token of gratitude, the heirs offered Rs 1,200,000 for the foundation of a medical school, named after Seth Gordhandas to be associated with the proposed hospital. At the instance of Sir Pherozshah Mehta, the donors also insisted that the professors and teachers to be employed should all be properly qualified independent Indian gentlemen not in government service. The Municipality approached the Bombay Medical Union for a detailed scheme for the organization of the medical college and hospital. Dr Jivraj Mehta, just returned from London after obtaining an MD degree, was approached by the union. He suggested a radical departure from the traditional design of teaching hospitals in India where isolated blocks housed separate departments. Dr. Mehta proposed that the entire medical college be housed in one large building and the hospital (including the out-patient block) in a separate building. This would facilitate coordination between the various departments. The two buildings were to be interconnected by covered corridors so that patients, students and staff could easily go from one building to another during heavy monsoon rains. (The Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital were the first multistoreyed institutions of their kind. The KEM Hospital was the first Indian hospital housing the out-patient department within the main hospital building.) [1]

The plans were submitted to WA Pite who had designed the Kings College Hospital in London and was then a leading authority on hospital construction. The local architect was George Wittet. In those days it was thought that if an architect happened to be an Englishman, he was not only a fit person to draw up plans for a hospital but also to select its equipment. Wittet drew up a long list of equipment to be imported from England, including even ordinary beds for the wards, lockers and mobile screens. [1]

The equipment committee (consisting of Dr Rustom Cooper, Dr PT Patel and Col. Hamilton) insisted on obtaining most items from Bombay. Wittet strongly expressed his resentment but was disregarded. When the hospital and the college were formally inaugurated on 22 January 1926, Wittet was presented a gold cigarette case by the Governor of Bombay, Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, in appreciation of his services. In the very first week, however, a large piece of the plastered ceiling of the operation theatre came down and within the first fortnight, the tiled floor cracked! The total cost of construction of the hospital was Rs 2,527,699 and that of the college Rs 1,364,574. [1]

In making the first appointments to the staff, the Municipal Corporation was largely guided by Dr. GV Deshmukh—a very active member of the corporation and also a big noise in the profession (Cooper). Dr Jivraj Mehta was elected Dean of the college and hospital. The first batch of teachers included Dr MDD Gilder, Dr PC Bharucha, Dr. AS Erulkar, Dr PT Patel, Dr GV Deshmukh, Dr RN Cooper, Dr VL Parmar, Dr NA Purandare, Dr. VR Khanolkar and Dr. BB Yodh, who, according to Dr Jivraj Mehta, were individuals of the highest capability and deepest integrity. There was a great bond of striving towards a common aim—-ensuring a brilliant success for these institutions. Remember, these were the first medical institutions in the country staffed by Indians at the professorial and other levels and there was a great sense of pride in all of us. [1]

The list of members of the staff in 1926 shows their designations as Honorary surgeon and lecturer in surgery, Honorary physician and lecturer in medicine and so on. Dr Rustom Cooper explained: To ensure smooth working, some departures from accepted policies were instituted. It was the usual practice in hospitals to have surgeons in order of seniority. The senior surgeon became, ipsottfacto, professor of surgery. The surgeons at the KEM Hospital decided differently. It was resolved to drop the high sounding title of professor and call the surgeons just lecturers. It must be said to the credit of Drs GV Deshmukh and AP Bacha that, though they had a senior standing in the profession, they agreed to this arrangement. This plan was accepted by all the other departments and has been responsible for the great fellow-feeling that has always prevailed. Many heartaches and petty jealousies were thus averted. [1]

Part of the success was also due to the extraordinary qualities of Dr Jivraj Mehta. “I would come over to the hospital in the middle of the night . . . keep my car outside the hospital compound so that no one knew in advance of my presence and moved about the hospital, entering the wards through the servants staircase to check for myself that no one on duty misused his time. I preferred using the small, winding staircases near the toilet blocks so that I could check on the sanitary facilities. Call books were checked regularly and doctors not attending within a reasonable period were disciplined. I would taste the patient’s food from time to time and walk into the students hostel and resident’s quarters at midnight to see how they lived and worked. ...” [1]

However, since those times and till this date, with increasing number of students, there have been many protests by resident doctors and under-graduates about the dismal living conditions prevailing in the institute, going into the hostels where the doctors return after a day and possibly many days and nights of toil, one can say that there must indeed be nobility in the medical profession that they all shall return tomorrow to their patients and give them service of life. [1]

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    • Gupta, Rajen Brijlal (October 1985 - July 1993)
    • Hardikar, Jayprakash (April 1997 - Present)
    • Mumbai, Gsite Kemite (April 1968 - August 2011)
    • Parikh, Purvish Mahendra (May 1985 - May 1986)
    • Satoskar, Rajeev R. (September 1998 - Present)
    • Shenoy, Sudhir Gopalkrishna (August 1980 - September 1998)
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