The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke
Or as James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
It is comfortable to wear blinkers. We are so caught up in our own world, that we find it convenient to gloss over issues that are severely damaging the testimony of the Church. Even when people know, they sometimes seem confused about the matter. Most, not knowing what to do, allow situations to drift. Those outside the Church seem to have a greater concern for probity, justice and truth, while often Christians seem lukewarm.
Here is an effort to place before all concerned Christians some of the unsavoury facts that they could pray about and seek the Lord’s guidance on what corrective action they should take. More information is available elsewhere on this site. Perhaps the Lord will lead some to action, to enquire into and do something to stem the rot, even though a lot of the damage may have already been done.
For those Christians in the medical profession, the happenings at the more than hundred year old St Stephen’s Hospital, ought to be something that should make them hang their heads in shame. There has been gross manipulation of the rules to extend the terms of the Director (“proudly” a CMC Vellore graduate) with an extension of an additional term of seven years. Further, to overcome the problem of the retirement age coming in the way, the terms of office of the director has been changed by deleting the condition, “or till he attains the age of 60, whichever is earlier”. There is also the questionable role of the Bishop, the Chairman of the board, in this special effort to favour the director. Very few may be aware that the director is on the “Fact Finding Committee” of the CNI to enquire into alleged misappropriation of Church funds by the Bishop and others. Hence the picture becomes clearer, though more complex, but not surprising, knowing the history of the Church of North India.
The issues blew up with the termination of the head of the department of Psychiatry, Dr Rani Bhatia, ostensibly because “the department was not earning enough”. It is sadly already in the public domain, having been given wide coverage by the TV and the press.
But what seems to have really prompted the director to act against Dr Bhatia was her support to Dr Monica Thomas, a senior Christian Neurologist at the Hospital. Dr Monica’s polite, but continued expression of concern on mismanagement of the Hospital, was viewed as a threat. Her suggestions should have been taken in a positive manner for course correction by the hospital. But several of the issues pointed out, were the result of decisions that were possibly not very much above board. But the strategy to counter the issues was to spread unpleasant rumours as to the motives of Dr Monica.
Dr Monica Thomas, the only Christian Neurologist in Delhi, graduated from Osmania University and did her MD and DM from AIIMS, Delhi. Originally from Andhra Pradesh, she was always committed to mission. She was also closely associated to the Evangelical Union and the UESI through her student career. In spite of ample opportunities to work in corporate hospitals, she chose to work in St Stephen’s in view of the opportunity to be relevant to the healthcare mission. She is based in Delhi as her husband is also based there. Her fearless expressions of concern did not fit in the scheme of things of the hospital administration. The hospital has now lost the services of this senior and brilliant Christian doctor as she reluctantly resigned from St Stephens, in order to carry on with her life of service elsewhere, possibly in a secular organization.
Dr Monica was suspended when she, along with some others objected to the unjust termination of Dr Bhatia. Dr Bhatia, a non-Christian had been serving the Hospital with the same commitment to the values of the hospital, as the best of Christian staff, and has been highly respected for her work. The hospital has had the tradition in the past of attracting persons from all faiths because of its culture of service. There are several non-Christians who have served the hospital with similar commitment and distinction including the late Dr Sankaran, recipient of the Padma Shri and Padma Vibushan awards.
Another senior and eminent doctor, Dr Jacob Puliyel was given a show cause notice for supporting Dr Bhatia. Dr Jacob is one person who has significantly contributed to research in the field of Paediatrics as is evident from his several contributions to the profession. He is an appointee on the National Technical Advisory board of the Government of India on immunization. His latest contribution to the credibility of the hospital is the ICMR grant for Rs 45 lakhs to study Hepatitis B Vaccine effectiveness, given to St Stephen’s Hospital, to conduct a large multi-centre study with Dr Jacob Puliyel as Principal Investigator. All this work with cutting edge research from a relatively small paediatric department in the midst of solid and empathetic clinical work where all the consultants would do regular night call duties, ICU work and a lot of general OPD work (targeting the poor) is no mean accomplishment.
Several others have been intimidated into silence. By taking action against senior respected doctors, a lesson is being communicated to the Hospital staff, who may otherwise dare to honestly express their Christian concerns, that they would lose their jobs if they do not fall in line! It is a strategy to build an organization of sycophants and discourage and expel staff with any Christian vision or commitment to the cause of Christ!
An argument, sometimes put forth, that such issues are internal administrative matters only, is something that anyone knowing the facts cannot take seriously.
The hospital is now showing a major deficit for the first time as a result of mismanagement. Further, the attempt to change the charitable nature of the hospital and the demoralization and intimidation of senior staff, have severely undermined and continues to undermine the Christian testimony of the hospital. Hopefully the hospital will not go the way of the hundreds of Indian Christian hospitals that have closed down and the several that are being sold off to commercial organizations, as we are witnessing today in front of our eyes.
To top it all, the director has been appointed the President of the CMAI and vice-chairman of CMC Ludhiana. Not only is the credibility of the hundred year hospital in the capital being severely damaged, the rot seems to be spreading to other Christian institutions. The “good” doctors in the Christian world seem to be unaware of this dangerous drift. This does not augur well for these institutions as power hungry men take control and retain their stranglehold resulting in the destruction of their Christian witness.
There is an urgent need for Christians to pray, find out more of the truth and seek the Lords expectation of them in stemming this evil.