Friday, 27 July 2018

Indomitable American Dr. Ida S. Scudder, founder of famous Christian Medical College, Vellore, TN


Founder Christian Medical College, Vellore. youtube.com
Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder (December 9, 1870 – May 23, 1960)  was the founder of Chritian Medical College, vellore, TN and  her  parents were Dr. John Scudder Jr. and his wife, Sophia (née Weld). They were  part of a long line of medical missionaries in India. Being the  grand daughter of Rev. Dr. John Scudder Sr., as a child in India,  she witnessed the effects of  famine, poverty and disease in her place. She went to the USA to attend s seminary and later to get married and settled down there. But the providence had a different duty fixed for her and that  gave  her name and credit. 
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In 1890, Ida visited a small town called Tindivanam (now Tamil Nadu) in Madras Presidency where her mother was ailing at the  mission Bungalow. Though Ida  did not want to become a  medical missionary, a gripping and tragic  experience in which three Muslim women, who had come to the mission for delivery  refused to be treated by male doctors, had changed her vision.  Later the three ladies death because of lack of lady doctors with knowledge of gynaecology or general medicine, besides   inadequacy of medical knowledge and facilities brought about a change in her persona.   Realizing India needs adequate lady doctors to deal with all kinds of people, she made up her mind to become a doctor and of service to them in the name of God.  Ms. Ida realized that God had convinced her to pursue the line of medical missionary as her parents and grand parents were. ''Service to the poor and needy women is service to God'' be came her primary goal.  Her missionary zeal  and her interest in the health care of the women in particular,  were  instrumental in starting one of the most foremost medical colleges in S.E Asia in Vellore, Tamil Nadu. The Reformed Church in America gave her solid support to accomplish her dream. 
Founder CMC Ida S. Scudder as a young woman/en.wikipedia.org
Her missionary work  led  her to remain single and she never got married. Having graduated from Cornell Medical College, New York City in 1899, she landed in India with funds donated by a banker in his wife's memory.  with  $10,000 grant from a Mr. Schell, a Manhattan banker, she started a small  medical dispensary and clinic for women at Vellore (now a city),  75 miles from Madras. In 1900, her hailing father died. In a span of a couple of years,  young Dr. Ida  Scudder treated 5000 patients.
Vellore Christian Medical College. CollegeDekho

Vellore Christian Medical College Foundation
This encouraged her to start  the Mary Taber Schell Hospital in 1902, however, she realized the inadequacy of qualified male/lady doctors to meet the demands of women. There was one doctor for 10000 people and to meet the short fall, she decided to open a Medical College to train Indian women in medicine. As the Indian women were conservative and not forward-looking then, her colleagues  at a Medical missionary Conference in Kodikanal, TN in 1911 were not in favor of her idea. Following year they gave her green signal. Undaunted as she was, she went ahead and started the Medical College  with 14 women enrolled for admission in 1918. The Reformed Church in America kept encouraging her endeavor by giving the needed support.  Dr Ida had to fight initially a lot to get the medical College going. Affiliation to a university, funds to run the college, etc haunted her and she solved them with patience. She got provisional affiliation to Madras university in 1941 and nine years later she got a permanent affiliation. Thanks to the efforts made by Dr. Lakshmana Swami Mudaliar.   Subsequently,  when the medical institution became co-educational several missions stepped in to give support  to the medical institution at Vellore. 

Dr. Ida Scudder's  concept of Roadside clinics, a sort of Community and primary health care for interior rural areas  was a famous one and her innovative approach in those colonial days had been recently commended by the WHO - the World Heath organization. This unique program involved  a team of staff set out in a bullock-cart with adequate medical supplies. Their destination was near-by rural communities  to provide health care. Even now the College of Nursing  Community health  along with other sister units have been participating in Primary health Care and Community reach. 

The medical College moved into a new location in 1928 and the campus came up on  200 acres (0.8 km²) at Bagayam and in the same year Mahatma Gandhiji visited the campus and praised the services of medical missionaries under Dr. Scudder. As for the founder, she did not sit idle, she toured the US often on fund-raising missions and brought in $ millions of dollars to develop the college. In 1945, the college was opened for both men and women.

The Vellore Christian Medical Center  in 2003 was the largest Christian hospital in the world, with 2000 beds, and its medical school is now one of the best  medical colleges in India. Dr. Ida in 1952 won the Elizabeth Blackwell Citation from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, as one of 1952's five outstanding women doctors, an honor she well deserved. 

She died, at the ripe age of 89, at her Hilltop bungalow having led a satisfied life, dedicating herself to the cause of Women's medical education and addressing women's medical problems.

Tit-Bits:
01. This famous medical institution was first to carry out Leprosy Reconstructive Surgery in the world in 1948.

02. First open heart surgery in India in 1961.

03. In 1966 first bone-morrow transplant in India.

04. A stamp issued on August 12, 2000, as part of centenary celebrations of Christian Medical College, depicts the college chapel, the motivating monument of the medical college and hospital, symbolizing the ethos of the institution. The First-day cover portrays Dr Ida Scudder, who founded the institute in 1900, working for the medical requirements of pregnant women.

05. The famous visitors to this institution includes:  Sir Alexander Fleming, Dr Jonas Salk, the American Evangelist Billy Graham, Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Presidents Radhakrishna, Rajendra Prasad, Abdul Kalam. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and the Countess Edwina Ashley Mountbatten of Burma.

06. The college now offers over 175 different post graduate courses in the medical, nursing and allied health disciplines, including PhD courses. Yearly enrollment: Over 2,600 students 

07. The Hospital has eleven sites and serves over 2000 inpatients and 8,000 outpatients daily, with 67 wards, 92 clinics each day and over 150 departments /units.

08 MBBS enrollment : 100 students yearly. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Medical_College_%26_Hospital,_Vellore
http://www.istampgallery.com/christian-medical-college-and-hospital-vellore-1900-2000/