ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Transformation of Charitable Hospitals

As the lines between for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals get blurred due to market forces, the mission of affordable healthcare becomes the biggest casualty.

The Hindu in its edition of 16 September 2013 had reported the dismissal of a doctor from St Stephen’s for “not making enough money” for the hospital. Soon after the publication of this report, two senior doctors who were critical of the management decision were served notices. The rather dramatic turn of events raises a number of questions regarding how one of the oldest missionary hospitals is being transformed into a commercial enterprise.1, 2 St Stephen’s is one of the oldest charitable hospital that was set up by the Cambridge Mission in the late 19th century in Delhi. Though the hospital at Tis Hazari came up only in 1908 their charitable work dates back to the 1860s at the periphery of the walled city around Chandni Chowk where they established a small maternity hospital.

St Stephen’s began as a maternity hospital. In 1899, it is recorded that the hospital at Chandni Chowk had provided relief to 17,000 patients and had a record of 643 operations (Delhi Archives 1901).3 The hospital in the initial years received more than 50% funds from missionary and other charitable sources and received a small proportion from government and municipal sources. It also levied fees from those who could pay, mostly the Europeans but the hospital extended its services largely to the underprivileged (Delhi Archives 1916).4

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