Loma Linda University administrators help to strengthen network of hospitals in India
B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS, president of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, talks with G.R. Bazliel, MD, president and CEO of Simla Sanitarium and Hospital, during a break at the summit.
In the north of India, on the edge of the Himalayas, sits the mountain city of Shimla, capital of the Himachal Province. From 1865 to 1939, Shimla served as the seat of British Colonial government—which would relocate there every summer to avoid the stifling heat of Calcutta and later Dehli.
It is there at Shimla that delegates from 10 Seventh-day Adventist hospitals organized the network of Adventist hospitals in India under the banner of Adventist Health International–India in May.
The conference, hosted by G.R. Bazliel, MD, president and CEO of Simla Sanitarium and Hospital located in Shimla, included delegates from Aizawl, Pune, Bangalore, Ottapalam, Ranchi, Nuzvid, Ruby Nelson Memorial in Jalandhar, Thanjavur, and Hapur’s Milton Mattison Memorial Adventist Hospitals.
Joining the conference was a team from the United States that included Richard H. Hart, MD, DrPH, president of Adventist Health International and chancellor of Loma Linda University; B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS, president of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center (LLUAHSC); Brian Bull, MD, chair and professor of the department of pathology and human anatomy, Loma Linda University School of Medicine; Mark L. Hubbard, senior vice president of human resource management and risk management, LLUAHSC; Larry Dodds, MBA, senior vice president, Adventist Health; Donald Pursley, DBA, emeritus executive vice president, LLUAHSC; and Harold Lee, DMin, president, Columbian Union Conference of
Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, president of Adventist Health International and chancellor of Loma Linda University, addresses representatives from 10 Adventist hospitals during a summit in Shimla, India. The 10 hospitals are now part of AHI–India.
“The goal of this conference was to cement the structure of AHI–India and create momentum towards common goals,” explains Dr. Hart.
With 15 official languages and 845 dialects, India contains a kaleidoscope of cultures and geography. Yet, with an estimated population of more than a billion people, there are approximately only 35 Adventist physician specialists currently working in the entire country.
“The world has changed around us so much, but our hospitals have changed so little,” comments John Christo, MD, medical director of Bangalore Adventist Hospital. “Now, by working with AHI’s professional management, we will be given a chance to develop our own Adventist specialists, our educational programs, and move our hospitals forward.”
While the challenges that the Adventist hospitals in India face are significant and sometimes unique, the spirit of comraderie and enthusiasm expressed by all the conference participants was palpable.
Just a few short years ago, Bangalore Adventist Hospital was on the outskirts of the information technology capital of India. The hospital now finds itself crowded on all sides in a city with a population of 6 million people.
The newest and smallest hospital joining the AHI network, Thanjuvar Adventist Hospital, currently has 10 beds and two physicians. The hospital is seeking to develop eye camps and programs to promote maternity health in its rural surroundings.
Aizawl Adventist Hospital, located in Mizoram, the remote and politically unstable far eastern region of India, is filled with problems relating to drug and alcohol addiction.
Giffard Memorial Hospital in Nuzvid has a vast array of beautiful buildings, a large campus with a nursing school, and a significant Adventist presence in the surrounding community. Unfortunately, most of the hospital’s 100 beds sit empty due to a lack of physicians.
“Organizing as a unified system under the AHI–India banner will not only give these hospitals new opportunities in acquiring technology, personnel, and developing medical and educational programs, but it will also turn some of the historical weaknesses of the organization of these hospitals into a strength,” says Dr. Hart.
“Now, rather than operating alone and isolated from one another, these hospitals will be able to share resources, personnel, and training,” he continues.
“By operating as a network under the banner of AHI,” Dr. Hart adds, “these hospitals will be able to act as a powerful and effective system that will have the power to provide health and education services from one end of the country to the other.”
He concludes, “We have the ability to create a powerful organization on the national level here.”