Saturday, May 28, 2011
The Government General Hospital at Chennai is one of the oldest institutions in the city - and quite likely the oldest functioning hospital in the country. It started off as a small hospital to treat the soldiers of the British East India Company who were routinely falling prey to various tropical maladies. It was Sir Edward Winter, during his first stint as the Agent of Fort St. George, who inaugurated this hospital on November 16, 1664.
It wasn't much of a hospital, initially. being based out of one of the houses in the Fort. And for a few years, it moved around inside the Fort itself, before the general congestion of the Fort and the 'Town' area forced it to look outside. It was only in 1762 that a new site was identified, a little away from the Fort, on the road to Poonamallee.
None of the buildings from that time was preserved when these new buildings came up in the early 2000s. All the old buildings were taken down and these two blocks replaced them. Supposedly, a couple of plaques from those buildings are preserved somewhere inside this campus - but discovering them may be more difficult than the task Charles Donovan faced in discovering the kala-azar agent in 1903. Even the plaque commemorating that discovery, one of the high points of the hospital's history is also missing!