Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital

Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital is a major state-owned hospital situated in Chennai, India. The hospital is funded and managed by the state government of Tamil Nadu. Founded in 1664 by the British East India Company, it is the first modern hospital in India.[2] In the 19th century, the Madras Medical College joined it. As of 2018, the hospital receives an average of 12,000 outpatients every day.[3]

Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital
Government of Tamil Nadu
Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital
LocationGrand Western Trunk Road, Park Town, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Care systemPublic
TypeFull-service medical center & teaching hospital
Affiliated universityMadras Medical College


The Government General Hospital was started by 16 November 1664 as a small hospital to treat the sick soldiers of the British East India Company. Sir Edward Winter who was the agent of the company was instrumental in the establishment of the first British Hospital at Madras.[4]

In its early days, the hospital was housed at the Fort St. George and in the next 25 years, it grew into a formal medical facility. Governor Sir Elihu Yale (the initial benefactor of the world-renowned Yale University) was instrumental in the development of the hospital and gave it new premises within the Fort in 1690.

Art of a surgery in progress in ancient India, on display at the hospital

The Hospital moved out of the Fort after the Anglo-French War and it took 20 years before it could settle in the present permanent place in 1772.[5] By 1771, the new location for the hospital, which until then was located on Armenian Street, was finalized—the land on which the East India Company's Garden House stood in the 1680s on the lower slopes of Nari Medu (literally "Hog's Hill") (the area around present-day Chennai Central).[6][7] New building at this site was constructed by John Sullivan at a cost of 42,000 pagodas and the hospital at the present-day site was formally opened on 5 October 1772. Between 1664 and 1772, the hospital had been moved nine times.[7]

By the year 1772, the hospital was training Europeans, Eurasians and natives in Western methods of diagnosis and treatment and methods of preparing medicines. These trained personnel were posted to various dispensaries in the district headquarters of the then Madras Presidency to assist the qualified doctors. Subsequently, the hospital was turned into Garrison Hospital in 1814. By 1820, the institution had the recognition as the model hospital of the East India Company. In 1827, D. Mortimar was appointed as the superintendent of the hospital.

The Madras Medical College started off as a private medical hall run by Mortimar, and was regularised into a medical school in 1835, which was opened by the governor, Sir Frederick Adams. The governor then promulgated an ordinance to make the school a state-sponsored one and attached it to the General Hospital.

In 1842, the H-shaped main building was constructed, and the hospital was opened to Indians.[5] Simultaneously, the medical school was upgraded into Madras Medical College and started functioning from 1850. Between 1928 and 1938, the hospital was expanded to a great extent owing to the growing number of patients. A. L. Mudaliar was appointed as the first Indian principal of Madras Medical College. Since 1935, with the creations of various departments, new buildings were constructed and the Public Works Department started maintaining the hospital. By the end of the 20th century, the government decided to demolish the old building and replace it with two tower blocks at a cost of 1,050 million.

On 10 July 1987, the first ever transplant surgery in the hospital was done.[8][9] The first successful cadaver renal transplantation was performed at the hospital in January 1996.[9]

In April 2007, the government decided to open pay-and-use wards with 200 beds and own nurses, to be maintained by the Tamil Nadu Medical Commission, at the hospital.[10]

In March 2013, a new kidney dialysis centre with 12 machines was commissioned at the hospital at a cost of 10 million.[11]


As the city of Chennai falls under seismic zone III, the structure is designed to be quake-resistant. A framed structure with pile foundation is used in the superstructures. The tower blocks are constructed with structural glazing, aluminium composite panel cladding and Novakote finish.

Main facade of the hospital

The total plinth area of Tower Block I is 31,559 square metres and Tower Block II is 33,304 square metres. The ground level is raised up to 1.40 metres (4'7") to avoid water stagnation and to allow gravity flow of rainwater. Each tower block has three staircases and eight lifts and the building has a ramp with access to all floors. A separate fire-escape staircase and garbage disposal lift are found at the rear side of the building. Construction of an eight-storey block to house 23 outpatient departments began in August 2016 at a cost of 1014.5 million. It will add to the hospital an additional 432,000 square feet when it is opened in July 2019. The new block will have four bed-cum-passenger elevators and four passenger elevators.[3][12]

The building has a 1,000 KVA generator with automatic main failure panel. An air-conditioning plant caters to the needs of operation theatres, ICUs, IMCUs, blood bank and special wards. A digital EPABX system has been installed with battery power backup.

The hospital has 52 operation theatres, besides intensive care units and post-operative wards. The hospital requires around 1,400 cubic metres of oxygen a day, which is supplied through 1,052 outlets using cylinders. The hospital consumes around 300 oxygen cylinders every day.[13]

Government General Hospital, Chennai

The hospital was the first government-run institution in the state to install a tank to store liquid oxygen. The tank, with a capacity to hold 13,000 litres of oxygen, would cater to the needs of the entire hospital when it becomes operational. The tank has been installed in the space between Tower Block 2 and the old cardiology block. The tank, costing 4 million, has been built free of cost by Inox Air Products, which supplies the gas to the hospital. A full tank will ensure that supply will last for 5 days.[13]

Dispensaries attached to the hospital include Government Secretariat Dispensary, Government High Court Dispensary, Government Chepauk Offices Dispensary, Government Estate Dispensary, and Government Raj Bhavan Dispensary.

As of 2013, there were 231 beds for various ICUs at the hospital including for poly trauma, orthopaedics, medical emergencies, poison, surgical, cardiology, neurology and geriatrics. An additional 15 beds for cancer ICU has been planned along with the commissioning of a linear accelerator for precise radiation therapy.[14] In 2018, an integrated laboratory facility in the hospital was officially sanctioned to provide "seamless lab services".[15]

The hospital is the first in the government sector to have a full-fledged emergency department, which includes triage area, resuscitation bay and colour-coded zones, per the Tamil Nadu Accident and Emergency Care Initiative (TAEI) guidelines.[16]

In 2015–2016, construction of four multi-storied blocks began at a cost of 1,244.8 million. Of these, three buildings, namely, rheumatology block, nephrology block, and urology and hepatology blocks, built at a cost of 553.3 million, were completed in February 2017, March 2017, and June 2018, respectively.[17]


Front Lobby of Tower 1
One of the many hallways at the hospital

The entire hospital block has been remodelled with the reconstruction of the massive twin towers. These replace the original hospital buildings, which were more than a century old.

While the hospital is managed by the medical superintendent, the dean is the head of the Madras Medical College (MMC) attached to the hospital.

By 2006, the hospital started treating about 8,000 to 10,000 outpatients every day. The hospital also performed three open-heart surgeries free of cost daily.[18] By 2013, the number of outpatients per day increased to 10,000 to 12,000.[1]

The hospital contributes to the second largest number of deceased organ donations in Tamil Nadu.[19] In March 2012, the hospital performed its 1,000th kidney transplant, the highest in any government hospital in the country, of which about 90 were cadaver transplants.[8] As of 2013, the hospital has a 22 percent share in organ transplants, the highest among hospitals in the city.[20]


A corporation canteen is under construction on a 5,000 sq ft land and will be the biggest of its kind in the city. It can accommodate the 12,000 outpatients, 3,000 inpatients and thousands of staff and visitors at the hospital. The canteen is expected to open by mid-September 2013. The canteen will have ramps for differently-abled and possibly have separate counters for them.[21]


On 27 April 2022, a major fire broke out at the hospital at around 11 a.m.[22] The Bradfield Surgical Block, one of the old buildings at the hospital premises, was affected in the fire.[23]

Future developments

In March 2011, the state health department announced setting up of a genetic lab at the hospital to help in the early diagnosis of such diseases.[24]

In June 2012, the first skywalk in Chennai connecting Chennai Central Railway Station, Park Railway Station and the hospital was planned at a cost of 200 million.[25] It will be 1 km long, linking the hospital with nine points, including Chennai Central Railway Station, Evening Bazaar, Government Medical College and Ripon Buildings on Poonamallee High Road.

In April 2022, the government announced the construction of a new building at a cost of 650 million to replace the century-old Bradfield Surgical Block, which was destroyed by fire in the same month.[23]

See also


  1. "GH in Chennai to celebrate 350 years in Nov". The Hindu. Chennai. 21 September 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  2. Amarjothi, J. M. V.; Jesudasan, Jeyasudhahar; Ramasamy, Villalan; Jose, Livin (2020). "History of Medicine: The origin and evolution of the first modern hospital in India". The National Medical Journal of India. 33 (3): 175–179. doi:10.4103/0970-258X.314010. PMID 33904424. S2CID 233410719. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  3. "Eight-storeyed outpatient building coming up at GH". The Hindu. Chennai: Kasturi & Sons. 11 August 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  4. Hamid, Zubeda (20 August 2012). "The medical capital's place in history". The Hindu. Chennai. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  5. "History: 1639 A.D. TO 1700 A.D." ChennaiBest.com. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  6. Ramya Raman & Anantanarayanan Raman (23 August 2022). "On the quarter-millennial anniversary of the Madras General Hospital". The National Medical Journal of India. 35 (1): 47–51. doi:10.25259/NMJI_5084. ISSN 2583-150X. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  7. Sriram, V. (23 February 2015). "A brief history of the General Hospital – a Chennai landmark". Madras Heritage and Carnatic Music. V. Sriram. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  8. Kumar, G. Pramod (21 March 2012). "Once capital of illegal kidney trade, Chennai now a pioneer in transplants". Firstpost.com. Firstpost.India. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  9. "Govt hospital performs its 1000th kidney transplant". Health India.com. Health.India.com. 21 March 2012. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  10. "Pay wards at General Hospital soon". The Hindu. Chennai. 21 April 2007. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  11. "GH gets new dialysis centre". The Hindu. Chennai. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  12. "New building for outpatients at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital". The Hindu. Chennai: Kasturi & Sons. 11 August 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  13. "GH gets state-of-art liquid oxygen tank". The Hindu. Chennai. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  14. "Precise radiation therapy soon at Chennai GH". The Hindu. Chennai. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  15. Josephine, M. Serena (20 October 2018). "Two govt. hospitals in Chennai to have 'seamless laboratories'". The Hindu. Chennai: Kasturi & Sons. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  16. Josephine, M. Serena (28 April 2019). "Chennai's third full-fledged emergency dept. at KMC". The Hindu. Chennai: Kasturi & Sons. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  17. "Three buildings built at Rs 55.33 crore idle at Chennai government hospital, says CAG report". The Indian Express. Chennai: Express Publications. 24 June 2021. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  18. "Chennai Government General Hospital treats up to 10,000 outpatients daily". The Hindu. Chennai. 23 January 2006. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  19. Sujatha (24 May 2012). "MoU signed by Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Chennai & MOHAN Foundation". Mohan Foundation. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  20. "100 cadaver transplants later, GH still going strong". The Hindu. Chennai. 2 February 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  21. "Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital canteen with ramps soon". Deccan Chronicle. Chennai. 20 August 2013. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  22. "Fire at Chennai's Rajiv Gandhi govt hospital; no casualties, 33 patients shifted". Hindustan Times. Chennai. 27 April 2022. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  23. "₹65cr block to replace fire-ravaged building". The Times of India. Chennai. 29 April 2022. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  24. "Rare diseases unit, genetic lab coming". The Times of India. Chennai. 1 March 2011. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  25. "First skywalk to link Chennai Central with GH". The Hindu. Chennai. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
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