The 132-year-old Cama and Albless Hospitals for women and children at CSMT, housed in one of the city’s oldest Gothic heritage structures, have received a Rs 3-crore donation from Tata Trusts to upgrade their hospital facilities and build a museum. For the proposed museum, the authorities intend to put on display the history of the hospital -old photographs of the structure and important information on the first Indian women doctors who were attached to Cama Hospital, who were responsible for promoting medical education among women, and creating an institute only for women and children. The museum will also have a small library focusing on Indian women doctors and their achievements. The women doctor whose achievements will be highlighted include the first lady medical superintendent of Cama and Albless Hospitals, Dr Annette Benson, a Britisher who also founded the Association of Medical women in India; and Jerusha Jhirad, who was among the first Indian women physicians, and the medical officer in charge of Cama.
Jhirad, a member of the Bene Israel Jewish community, was the first woman to be granted a scholarship by the Indian government to study abroad. She was awarded the Padmashri in 1966. “The first few women doctors were brave, dynamic ladies whose life stories are a source of inspiration. With this museum, we would like to motivate our students by showing them the devotion these women had for this hospital,” said Dr Amita Joshi, current medical superintendent of the hospital. The museum will showcase the pioneering women’s achievements, research papers, innovations and experiments. “We have already started working on gathering information from our archives and other sources. We are hoping that it will ready by this year,” she said.
Dr Joshi added that the Tata Trusts’ funds would also be used “to provide better OPD facilities for gynecology patients, and a special uro-gynecology department”, to be run by senior gynecologist Dr Aparna Hegde, a leading urogynecologist and pelvic floor reconstructive surgeon with a Master’s degree from Stanford University and IUGA (International Urogynecological Association). “This department will help our underprivileged patients, who cannot afford the private hospital,” Dr Joshi said. Dr TP Lahane, joint director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), said, “Apart from Tata Trust funds, the government has also sanctioned funds to restore the Cama and Albless Hospitals structure. It is a beautiful building, with arched doors and windows made of teakwood, and spiral stairs. Being the city’s first women and children’s hospital, we want to maintain its beauty, and the longevity of the historical structure.”
Hospital inaugurated in 1886
The Cama & Albless Hospitals (originally just Cama Hospital) have 367 beds. The foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Connaught on 22 November 1883, and the building was formally opened on 30 July 1886. The building is designed in the medieval gothic style by Khan Bahadoor Muncherjee Cowasjee Murzban and is made of stone obtained from Porbandar. Pestonjee Hormusjee Cama contributed Rs 100,000 to the hospital’s construction, and staffing was provided through the Medical Women for India Fund. – Mumbai Mirror