Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day Four – Pondicherry Hospital, Pondicherry

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We gathered for our morning flight to Chennai (old Madras), where we were met by Aravind staff from the Pondicherry Hospital. Pondicherry is the most recently built of the five main Aravind base hospitals. Where the physical plant of Aravind Madurai was expanded as resources and demand grew, Pondicherry sprang fully-formed from the architect’s pen.

Situated on 70 acres just outside of the city, the campus includes two large residential areas that house not only the sisters that work at the hospital, but also many of the doctors and their families. This beautiful building is an engineering marvel. Many systems found in the other hospitals are found here, but it is also host to many new innovations. One of the most exciting is the water reclamation system. All sewage water goes into a series of celled cisterns, and left to sit for a certain period of time after which a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria is created. Through a series of containment and flow through rocks, the end result is water at the highest level of purity.

The central section of the main hospital building houses the operating theaters and specialty clinics. As you walk in, you are greeted with a beautiful open space in the middle of the building with lush plantings and statuary. The buildings on either side house the post-op recovery accommodations. The free side is on the left, with spacious rooms for mats or cots, and eating areas. The paying side is a bit more posh, with private and semi-private rooms. Again, the patient makes the choice of which side they will register. The eye wear “store” is huge, and replete with every kind of lens and frame design – all manufactured and fitted in-house.

The tour wends it way through the surgery areas, much bigger than anything we saw in Madurai. Many rooms are still unused, showing the main difference between the first and latest hospitals: Madurai is crowded, and always trying to squeeze more out of its space, whereas Pondicherry is looking to DOUBLE its present patient load before it starts to outgrow its space.

After a long afternoon of touring, we head back to our hotel and dine under the stars, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Just lovely.

Falling asleep, listening to the waves,

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