On the 14th of January 2019, our hon’ble Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, inaugurated the 1,000-bedded multi-specialty hospital at Sokeythang, Gangtok. Built at a cost of Rs 1,281 crore on about 15 acres of land, this hospital has been dubbed as a ‘mini AIIMS’ in terms of infrastructure and will consist of the finest of staff in each of its specialized departments. This ultra-modern hospital, been called the New STNM Multi-Specialty Hospital, is equipped with all the modern facilities and infrastructure of the 21st century and is a landmark achievement of the SDF government which will continue to serve the people of Sikkim for decades to come.
To know exactly how significant this is, brief history is to be recounted. When the Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital (STNM) was first inaugurated in 1917, it started off as a 10-bedded hospital on a ridge overlooking the Gangtok Bazaar. In 1937, the hospital moved to a larger premise in the centre of Gangtok. Over the years this hospital turned into a 320-bedded hospital with four OTs. A new 20-bedded emergency ward was inaugurated in 2015. Today, the New STNM is a state-of-the-art building with 13 storeys and has been built to resist an earthquake of 8 moment magnitude, which is extremely important for an earthquake-prone state like Sikkim. The government has already appointed 47 regular doctors and 261 nurses for the hospital, and is in the process of appointing super specialists, specialists and paramedics. Since the hospital is located 3km from Gangtok town, eight buses will operate round the clock to ferry patients and attendants to and from the facility free of cost. It has been claimed that the New STNM is the second biggest healthcare facility in India after AIIMS, New Delhi.
This is a crucial move as people of Sikkim won’t have to go out of the state to avail world-class specialized healthcare services, therefore saving a lot of travelling cost and effort. Further, this will open various avenues of employment for locals. Moreover, it will attract Sikkimese doctors back to the state who moved out for better opportunities. It will also attract people from neighbouring states bringing in revenue from healthcare. It will in due course be a teaching hospital with the Chief Minister also laying the foundation stone of the State Medical College. When it is up and running then the children from Sikkim will receive their medical education free of cost. Another feather in Sikkim’s cap.
Along with the expansion of physical infrastructure, the government has been introducing programmes allowing the poor to avail the best medical facilities at their doorstep. The CATCH programmes; which is a flagship programme of the present Government; aims to provide comprehensive health care on annual and periodical basis. It is because of these consistent efforts to upscale availability and accessibility of healthcare that Sikkim is now one of the healthiest states of India.
One question however remains. How will the present level of healthcare management at the STNM hospital cope with this gigantic leap of faith? We hope they will also lift themselves up as the management of such a facility will require a different mindset and leadership skills. This is what the Chief Minister also exhorted when he asked them to give their best and improve themselves.
It is therefore a question uppermost in everybody’s mind.